Gay Dad Life

New Zealand Member of Parliament Becomes First-Time Gay Dad

Tāmati Coffey, a member of New Zealand's Parliament, just welcomed a son with his husband Tim Smith.

New Zealand Labour MP (Member of Parliament) Tāmati Coffey and his husband Tim Smith became first-time dads on July 10, 2019 when they welcomed their son Tūtānekai Smith-Coffey via surrogate. Needless to say, the dads are overjoyed to finally become parents.

Tāmati, MP for the Waiariki electorate and former TV weatherman, and his husband Tim, a former music teacher from Northern England, had a civil union in 2011 and have been together 10 years. Fatherhood had been "a long time coming," Tāmati had said when he announced that he and Tim were expecting at Auckland's Big Gay Out.


"It's always been something I knew I was going to do," Tāmati told One News' Sunday, referring to fatherhood, during the couple's path to fatherhood mini documentary. "I didn't quite know how I was going to do it."

When the interviewer asked the dads-to-be if they were even the slightest bit terrified, Tim responded, "Yeah, I think it's nerve-wracking becoming a parent. We don't know what it's like, eh."

"No, but we're really ready for this," responded Tāmati.

For gay men in New Zealand, becoming a dad is challenging. Few children are available for adoption in New Zealand, and commercial surrogacy is illegal. Surrogacy for a gay man or couple has to be an altruistic arrangement on the part of the surrogate and it's illegal to pay her more than her reasonable expenses.

While gay marriage was made legal in 2013 (watch the video of folks in parliament breaking out in a traditional Maori love song once the vote in favor of marriage equality was read), surrogacy for gay men in New Zealand is still incredibly difficult, with only a handful of successful surrogacy journeys taking place within the country to date. Along with the additional reports from doctors, lawyers and counselors needed for altruistic surrogacy, gay men also don't get access to the publicly funded IVF treatments that are available in New Zealand.

Watch:

Watch the above mini documentary following some of Tāmati and Tim's journey to fatherhood, and a look at what that path has been like for other gay men in New Zealand.

"What is worth it?" the interviewer asked the new dads, shortly after welcoming their son via water birth in a local birth center. "Was it worth, Tash?" Tāmati asked their surrogate, Natasha.

"100%," she replied, "so much joy."

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"They told me that they would only give me sick children, with severe disabilities, or with behavioral problems," he told the BBC in an interview. "I was absolutely ok with that."

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Yesterday, a years-long battle about the state of compensated gestational surrogacy came to an end in New York when the Governor signed into a law the Child-Parent Security Act in the 2020 as part of the state budget.

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Opponents, led by Senator Liz Krueger, had once again attempted to torpedo legalization efforts this year by introducing a second bill that would legalize surrogacy in New York, but also make it the most restrictive state in the country to do so. "A bill that complicates the legal proceedings for the parents and potentially allows them to lose their genetic child is truly unfortunate," said Sam Hyde, President of Circle Surrogacy, referencing to the bill's 8-day waiting period. He also took issue with the bills underlying assumptions about why women decide to serve as a surrogate. The added restrictions imply that "they're entering into these arrangements without full forethought and consideration of the intended parents that they're partnering with," he said.

The bill was sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay man who became a father via surrogacy, and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, who has been public with her experiences with infertility.

"My husband and I had our two daughters through surrogacy," Holyman told Gay City News. "But we had to travel 3,000 miles away to California in order to do it. As a gay dad, I'm thrilled parents like us and people struggling with infertility will finally have the chance to create their own families through surrogacy here in New York."

"This law will [give intended parents] the opportunity to have a family in New York and not travel around the country, incurring exorbitant costs simply because they want to be parents," Paulin said for her part. It will "bring New York law in line with the needs of modern families."


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