Meet Gay Dads: Scott & Mike

Scott and Mike have been together since 2009 when a mutual friend invited them both to play tennis. "The rest was history," they say. Scott works as a design director for a jewelry company, and Mike as a travel agent. Together, they adopted their son, Taylor, who was born in February, 2017. We caught up with the new dads to see how fatherhood was treating them.

Why did you decide on your particular path to parenthood? Did you consider other options? One of first conversations after dating was about having children. I have wanted children since the earliest moments I can remember. Mike had always wanted children as well, however he had a strained relationship with his family, which added nervousness to the process. Flash forward years later and we are thinking about adoption at the same time we were thinking about getting married. The Supreme Court passed the legalization of marriage for same sex couples and we got our marriage license that day. After careful consideration about going all out on an over the top tennis themed wedding or saving money for adoption – we chose adoption.

What obstacles did you face in your path to parenthood if any? After a lot of research, we chose to work with an adoption facilitator out of Chicago. In 2015, we paid for a two year contract, made our profile and got home study approved. It seemed like it was going to happen sooner rather than later. After only 3 months online we had been selected by a birthmother in Missouri. We found out she was pregnant with a baby girl and expecting in only a few months. Obviously we were excited and did everything that people gave us advice not to. The nursery was done up in pink and we splurged on all the cutest baby clothes. Our relationship with the birthmother was fairly rocky from the start and communication was often at a minimum. We made ourselves believe that she needed her time and things would turn around. Overlooking all of the warning signs, we moved forward. Almost two weeks before her due date, she dropped all contact with us. We were heartbroken. It was the lowest time in our 7-year relationship. We closed the door to the nursery to not see what could have been and moved on. We concentrated on work, and enjoying each other. It's times like this that I am so happy that we had each other to lean on. The waiting and the not knowing was the hardest part of the adoption process.

How hard was it to keep your dream of becoming dads alive after that setback?We concentrated on work, and enjoying each other. It's times like this that I am so happy that we had each other to lean on. The waiting and the not knowing was the hardest part of the adoption process. But flash forward about 6 months and we were sitting watching one of the trashy reality shows that we had on for background noise and Mike said to me “if we have a boy, can we give him the middle name Ben?” I was touched. Ben was the name of my best friend who died during my childhood. The next morning we woke up and we got the call. A birthmother in Tennessee had selected us and was pregnant with a boy! We heard right before the holidays of 2016. It was hard not to tell everyone again, but this time we kept the secret from most people. We were due in February and this time were able to develop a loving and open relationship with our birth mom. We drove from RI to Tennessee two days before the due date to be ready. On February 10th we got the call that we were in labor. We got to spend 30 hours with our birth mom in her hospital room getting to know each other and hearing all of her dreams for “our” son! It was something that I will cherish and we were so happy that we were able to be there. Taylor Benjamin was born on February 12 by C-Section and we welcomed him into our lives 5 minutes later. The first 2 weeks were exciting, exhausting and stressful, being in and out of the hospital and waiting for clearance to leave the state in our hotel, but it provided an amazing time to bond with our new addition and one we would never give up.

How has your life changed since you became fathers?  We have tried our best to keep our lives as close to the way they were before. We feel that integrating our son into our lives would be easier than the opposite. Besides not being able to play tennis 7 days a week, our daily lives have not changed now that we have a child. Our lives have just become more enriched. Waking up and knowing that you are responsible for another human being is what is the most amazing thing. We are told every day that people cannot believe how relaxed we are with Taylor and how relaxed he seems. We get told that is because we didn't drastically change what we were doing before.

What have you learned from your child since you became a dad? We have learned patience for sure. But we both never knew that you could unconditionally love someone as much as a baby. We have learned to lean and listen to each other more than before as well. Mike has a flawed relationship with his family, so having a child has started to heal that pain.

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Supreme Court to Hear Major Case Concerning LGBTQ Foster Care Parents

The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether cities are allowed to exclude tax-funded adoption agencies from foster care systems if they refuse to work with gay couples.

In 2018, city officials in Philadelphia decided to exclude Catholic Social Services, which refuses to work with LGBTQ couples, from participating in its foster-care system. The agency sued, claiming religious discrimination, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit unanimously ruled against the agency, citing the need to comply with nondiscrimination policies.

The case, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, follows a 2018 Supreme Court decision regarding a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. In that case, the court narrowly ruled that the baker bad been discriminated against, on religious grounds, by the state's civil rights commission. It did not decide the broader issue: whether an entity can be exempt from local non-discrimination ordinances on the basis of religious freedom.

The court — whose ideological center has shifted to the right since the addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in fall 2018 — may choose to do so now. Advocates quickly called on the court to consider the potential impact on the more than 400,000 children currently in the foster care system:

"We already have a severe shortage of foster families willing and able to open their hearts and homes to these children," said Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project. "Allowing foster care agencies to exclude qualified families based on religious requirements that have nothing to do with the ability to care for a child such as their sexual orientation or faith would make it even worse. We can't afford to have loving families turned away or deterred by the risk of discrimination."

"It is unconscionable to turn away prospective foster and adoptive families because they are LGBTQ, religious minorities, or for any other reason unrelated to their capacity to love and care for children," said HRC President Alphonso David. "We reject the suggestion that taxpayer-funded child welfare services should be allowed to put discrimination over a child's best interest. This case could also have implications for religious refusals that go far beyond child welfare. The Supreme Court must make it clear that freedom of religion does not include using taxpayer funds to further marginalize vulnerable communities."

The court may choose to override a 1990 decision, Employment Division v. Smith, which created the current standard for carving out religious exemptions. In that case, the court ruled that laws that target a specific faith, or express hostility towards certain beliefs, are unconstitutional — but this standard has long been abhorred by religious conservatives, who think it doesn't offer enough protections for religions. If the court does overrule Smith, it could have far-ranging consequences. " As noted on Slate, "it would allow anyone to demand a carve-out from laws that go against their religion, unless those laws are 'narrowly tailored' to serve a 'compelling government interest.'"

The four members of the court's conservative wing — Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh —have all signaled an openness to reconsider Smith. The ruling's fate, then, likely rests in the hands of the court's new swing vote, Chief Justice Roberts.

For more, read the full article on Slate.

Gay Dad Life

Dads Tell Us Their 'Gayest Moment Ever' as Parents

We may be dads — but we're still gay, damnit! And these "gayest moments ever," sent to us from our Instagram community, prove it.

Did your child know all the lyrics to Madonna songs by age 3? Do your kids critique all the red carpet lewks from the Tony Awards? Do you often have baby food, diapers, sparkling white wine, gourmet appetizer, and fresh cut flowers in your shopping cart — all in one trip? If you answered 'yes' to any of the above, you just might be... a gay dad.

We asked the dads in our Instagram community to share their gayest moments as a dad, ever, and their responses were just as hilarious as they were relatable.

Here's a great way to start the week...

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What's it Like to Be a Child of the 'Gayby Boom'?

Tosca Langbert, who grew up with two dads, writes a piece for the Harvard Business Review about what it's like being among the first children of the "Gayby Boom" to come of age.

We've previously written about the pressure on LGBTQ parents to appear perfect, given that so many in the United States still feel out families shouldn't exist in the first place. And we know this pressure trickles down to our kids. But In an article for the Harvard Business Review titled 'The Gayby Boom Is Here to Stay," author Tosca Langbert eloquently writes, from her perspective, about the experience of beingone of the first children to come of age during an era when LGBTQ parenthood is far more commonplace. She and her two siblings, she notes, "were raised in a family that was an impossibility only decades ago."

In the article, Langbert said she knew from a young age that her family was different from those of most of her peers, who had one a father and a mother. But otherwise, she writes, she didn't feel like her family differed much. "Like any other parents, Dad sat in the carpool lane after school and taught us how to ride our bikes," she writes, "while Papa took us to the movies on the weekends and separated the whites from the colors."

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Utah Bill Would Allow Gay Men to Enter Surrogacy Contracts

Rep. Patrice Arent of Utah is sponsoring a bill that will remove a provision that currently prohibits gay men from entering into commercial surrogacy contracts in the state.

Though Utah is not one of the three states that currently prohibit commercial surrogacy contracts, the state's current policy does specifically exclude gay men from doing so. That may soon changed, however, thanks to a bill in the state's legislature that was unanimously voted out of a House Committee that would remove that restriction.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, a Democrat, was created in response to a ruling by the Utah Supreme Court this past August that found the ban on gay men unconstitutional.

Gay men have been excluded from legally entering surrogacy contracts due to a provision in the current law that requires medical evidence "that the intended mother is unable to bear a child or is unable to do so without unreasonable risk to her physical or mental health or to the unborn child," Rep. Arent told the Salt Lake Tribune — a requirement that clearly excludes gay male couples.

The state's original surrogacy law dates back to 2005, before same-sex marriage was legalized in the state, which accounts for the gendered language. Though the state's Supreme Court already ruled the provision unconstitutional, Rep Arent further told the Tribute that, "People do not look to Supreme Court opinions to figure out the law, they look to the code and the code should be constitutional."


Colorado Republicans Try and Fail to Outlaw LGBTQ Marriage and Adoption Rights

A bill introduced by four Republican state legislators in Colorado that would outlaw same-sex marriage and adoption rights was voted down.

The "Colorado Natural Marriage and Adoption Act," which would have outlawed gay marriage and adoption in the state of Colorado, was voted down in the state legislature this week. The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Stephen Humphrey and three of his conservative colleagues: Dave Williams, Shane Sandridge and Mark Baisley.

If enacted, the bill would have enforced "state law that marriage is between one man and one woman" and restrict "adoption of children by spouses in a marriage ... that consist of one man and one woman."

The bill, which had little chance of success, particularly in Colorado which has trended more progressive over the past several election cycles, was mostly symbolic, according to Sanridrge. "We all know this bill isn't gonna pass in this current left-wing environment," he told Colorado Public Radio. "It's to remind everyone, this is the ultimate way to conceive a child."

In a sign of how far we've come on the issue of LGBTQ marriage and parenting rights, most Republican legislators in the state did not endorse the bill.

Though the bill had little chance of passage, LGBTQ advocacy groups in the state are taking the threats seriously nonetheless. Daniel Ramos, director of the LGBTQ group One Colorado, told LGBTQ Nation that the bills were an attempt to return Colorado to its "hate status" of the 1990s, adding the aggressiveness of the measures were "a bit surprising."

Surrogacy for Gay Men

Dads Talk About Surrogacy Process in New Video for Northwest Surrogacy Center

The Northwest Surrogacy Center interviewed some of their gay dad clients for a video to celebrate their 25th anniversary of creating families through surrogacy!

Image: NWSC Clients

Last year, Northwest Surrogacy Center celebrated 25 years of helping parents realize their dreams. And they celebrated in style by inviting the families they've worked with over the past two and a half decades to join them!

At the party, they took the opportunity to film queer dads and dads-to-be, asking them a couple of questions: how did it feel holding your baby for the first time, and tell us about your relationship with your surrogate.

Watch the video below and get ready for the water works!

Keep reading...
Surrogacy for Gay Men

Campaign to Legalize Surrogacy in New York Heats Up with Competing Bills

Two competing bills — one backed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and another by Senator Liz Krueger with stricter provisions — are aiming to legalize surrogacy in New York.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York is once again attempting to legalize commercial surrogacy in the state, which is still just one of three states in the country to forbid the practice.

"This antiquated law is repugnant to our values and we must repeal it once and for all and enact the nation's strongest protections for surrogates and parents choosing to take part in the surrogacy process," Governor Cuomo said in a statement in announcing a broader effort called Love Makes a Family. "This year we must pass gestational surrogacy and expedite the second parent adoption process to complete marriage and family equality."

Keep reading...

Fatherhood, the gay way

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