Change the World

ACLU Sues Trump Administration Over Plans to Discriminate Against LGBTQ Adoptive Families

Ahead of the Trump administration's planned rule to allow discrimination against LGBTQ adoptive parents on the basis of religion, the ACLU announced a lawsuit

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty

The Department of Health and Human Services recently hinted that it is preparing to issue a rule that would allow state-funded child welfare agencies to legally discriminate against same-sex couples. The rule would apply nationwide, depriving some of the over 440,000 children currently in the foster care system in the United States the opportunity to find loving homes with LGBTQ parents.

Fortunately, the ACLU quickly announced plans to sue, even before the policy has been officially released. A statement by Leslie Cooper, Deputy Director, ACLU LGBT & HIV Project said, "We're not waiting for the Trump administration to drop this rule, which would go against long-standing best practices supported by every major child welfare organization and former foster youth." The legal rights organization is also suing South Carolina, Cooper said, based on a similar state-based effort to allow discrimination against local LGBTQ parents on the basis of religious objections.

The Trump administration is seeking to roll back protections put in place for LGBTQ adoptive and foster care parents under the Obama administration that made it illegal for an child welfare agency receiving federal funding to refuse to work with same-sex couples.

Read the entire ACLU announcement here. We'll be sure to keep you updated as the story progresses.

Gay Adoption

5 Ways to Know Your Adoption Agency Is LGBTQ-Friendly

So you're ready to adopt. How do you know your adoption agency won't just discriminate against you as a gay man, but is actively welcoming to LGBTQ people?

You know what is the worst? Adoption agencies who discriminate! So how do you know your agency welcomes you? Check out our list of five immediate ways to know if your agency is LGBTQ affirming.

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Gay Dad Life

Netflix Documentary Explores a Gay Chinese-American's Path to Parenthood Via Surrogacy

"All In My Family," a new short documentary by filmmaker Hao Wu, explores his family's struggle to accept his sexuality and decision to pursue surrogacy in the United States

Filmmaker Hao Wu's latest documentary, released on Netflix this past week, explores his coming out story and his path to becoming a gay dad via surrogacy in the United States. Viewers watch as Wu comes out to his Chinese parents, who are not accepting of his sexual orientation.

As the film's synopsis notes, Wu, the only male descendant in his Chinese family, was "raised with a certain set of expectations - excel at school, get a good job, marry, and have kids." He achieves each of these goals, but as a gay man, he hasn't done so in the way his family had hoped. The film follows Wu brings his husband and children to China to meet his family, many of who are still unaware of his sexual orientation.

"I wanted to show the challenges for gay people of Chinese descent, what kind of cultural and generational barriers and differences they have to negotiate in order to build a family of their own," Wu said in an interview with InkStone.

Watch the moving documentary in full here.


Change the World

Tennessee Drops Anti-LGBTQ Adoption Bill Amid Growing Opposition

Amazon, the Tennessee Titans, and Taylor Swift were among those calling on the state to drop an anti-LGBTQ adoption bill

This past week the sponsor of a so-called "religious freedom" bill in the Republican-dominated Tennessee State Senate, which would have permitted state welfare agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ adoptive parents, requested the piece of legislation be pulled, effectively killing it for at least this year.

The bill, which had already been approved the the House, was widely expected to be passed and signed into law, so the sponsor's request surprised many. No explanation was given for the move, thought the Washington Post hints that increasing corporate pressure may have helped play a role. Both Amazon and the Tennessee Titans joined a growing list of companies speaking out against the discriminatory bill.

Taylor Swift, a native of the state who is increasingly wading into the political realm, also joined the fray by donating $113,000 to the Tennessee Equality Project, an advocacy group fighting the bills. In a handwritten note to the group's Executive Director, Swift wrote: "I'm so inspired by the work you do, specifically in organizing the recent petition of Tennessee faith leaders against the 'slate of hate' in our state legislature. I'm so grateful that they're giving all people a place to worship."

This good news follows Michigan's recent decision to rescind its own "religious freedom" law last month, though eight states currently still permit discrimination against prospective LGBTQ adoptive parents, and a bill is pending in Arkansas that would do the same.

Change the World

Gay Dads Respond to the Mormon Church's Policy Reversal

We asked gay dads with experience in the Mormon Church what they made of the religion's recent about face

Jared Lynton

In November 2015, the Mormon Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) announced a new policy decision that shocked many in their community: not only would same-sex married couples be considered "apostates," but even their children would be barred from receiving church blessing and baptisms.

The move was immediately met with backlash. Some allies resigned from the church in protest. Others stood by the church's decision, creating chasms within families. According to the Salt Lake Tribute, some even committed suicide.

Last week, however, the church did an about face: just three and a half years after first announcing its policy, children of LGBTQ parents can now be baptized and same-sex couples are no longer "apostates." (Though "homosexual acts" are still very much a sin.)

We caught up with several gay dads in our community with experience with the Mormon religion to get their perspective on the change.


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Change the World

Bill Allowing Discrimination Against LGBTQ Adoptive Parents Advances in Tennessee

Tennessee's anti-LGBTQ adoption bill still needs to be passed by the State Senate and signed by the Governor before becoming law.

Just this past week, we received the good news that Michigan will no longer permit state welfare agencies to discriminate against LGBQT parents in adoption proceedings, bringing the total number of states with so-called "religious freedom" exemption down to 9.

However, anti-LGBTQ advocates in two states, Tennessee and Arkansas, are both attempting to pass similar statewide "religious freedom" bills. The effort in Tennessee just received a major boost after passing the state's House of Representatives on Monday. The bill still needs to be passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor, both of which are currently controlled by Republicans.

Chris Sanders, the executive director of Tennessee Equality Project, put out a statement saying, "If this bill becomes law, same-sex couples, people of various religious beliefs, and people with no religious beliefs now face the prospect of being turned away from adoption agencies that they helped fund because they are labeled morally or religiously objectionable, which leaves children and youth with longer wait times for permanent homes."

Will be sure to keep readers posted as the story unfolds in both Tennessee and Arkansas.


Change the World

Michigan Will No Longer Permit Discrimination Against LGBTQ Adoptive Parents

Michigan just rescinded its "religious freedom" law that allowed child welfare agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

According to LGBTQ Nation, Michigan will no longer allow faith-based adoption agencies to turn away same-sex couples. The decision is thanks in part to a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Limiting the opportunity for a child to be adopted or fostered by a loving home not only goes against the state's goal of finding a home for every child, it is a direct violation of the contract every child-placing agency enters into with the state," said Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Nessel, who is raising two kids with her wife, Alanna Maguire, is the first LGBTQ person to ever be elected statewide in Michigan.

As LGBTQ Nation reports, LGBTQ advocates widely applauded the decision:

"Our children need every family that is willing and able to provide them with a loving home," said Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, in a press release. "When agencies choose to accept taxpayer dollars to provide public child welfare services, they must put the needs of the children first."

"Attorney General Nessel makes clear Michigan's commitment to uphold existing nondiscrimination protections," said Denise Brogan-Kator, chief policy officer at Family Equality Council, in a statement. "Furthermore, Nessel's statement demonstrates that she understands that while religious freedom is a core American value, religious beliefs should never be used as an excuse to harm others, or in this case, to reduce the number of loving homes available to children in the Michigan child welfare system."

Michigan's decision brings the total number of states with so-called "religious freedom" laws that permit discrimination against LGBTQ would-be parents down to nine: Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia. Two other states, Arkansas and Tennessee, are attempting to pass "religious freedom" bills this year:

Read more here.

Change the World

Study Finds Two-Thirds of Gay Dads Experienced Stigma in Last Year

The study also found that over half of gay dads have avoided certain social situations in the last year for fear of experiencing stigma.

According to new research by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the vast majority of gay men and their children experience some form of stigma. The findings are based on a survey of 732 gay father across 47 states in the United States.

More gay men are becoming fathers each year, and have more options for doing so than ever before: including adoption, foster care, and surrogacy. However as the study's authors write: "Despite legal, medical, and social advances, gay fathers and their children continue to experience stigma and avoid situations because of fear of stigma. Increasing evidence reveals that stigma is associated with reduced well-being of children and adults, including psychiatric symptoms and suicidality"

Almost two-thirds of respondents, or 63.5%, reported experiencing stigma based on being a gay father within the last year. Over half, or 51.2%, said they have avoided situations for fear of stigma, in the past year. Importantly, the study found that fathers living in states with more legal protections for LGBTQ people and families experienced fewer barriers and stigma. Most experiences of stigma (almost 35%) occurred, unsurprisingly, in a religious environment. But another quarter of gay dads said they experienced stigma from a wide variety of other sources, including: family members, neighbors, waiters, service providers, and salespeople

Surprisingly (or perhaps not?) another source of stigma cited by the study originates from other gay men. "Gay men report suspicion and criticism for their decision to be parents from gay friends who have not chosen parenthood." The study also says gay dads often feel "isolation in their parental role."

The study concludes, "Despite growing acceptance of parenting by same-gender adults, barriers and stigma persist. States' legal and social protections for lesbian and gay individuals and families appear to be effective in reducing experiences of stigma for gay fathers."

Read the whole study here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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