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.


Gay Dad Family Stories

Fatherhood Came Without Warning for These Two Young Gay Dads

Johnny and Adam were in their early 20s and had just started dating when a family friend asked if they could take a four-year-old boy into their home

When Johnny Guzman Tarango and Adam Tarango met in 2012, introduced by a mutual friend, they were both seeing other people at the time. What began as friendship quickly became passionate after breaking with their respective boyfriends to be with each other. Johnny was 20 years old and Adam was 21. The couple called Phoenix, Arizona home. Both were young, carefree, and very much in love.

Although Adam wanted to be a dad someday, Johnny was undecided. In January 2014, the couple were confronted with one of the biggest decisions of their lives: fatherhood.

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Foster/Foster-Adopt

This Gay Couple Was Inspired to Become Foster Dads Thanks to the Show "The Fosters"

Matthew and Brian say they used to feel like "unicorns" as gay foster dads. They're happy to see more LGBTQ couples take the plunge into the foster system.

Matthew Hamparian and his husband Brian Lawrence have been together for over 18 years and live in Columbus, Ohio. "We had talked about children for a long time," shared Matthew. They were inspired by the show "The Fosters," and watched it regularly as one of the staffers of the show was a friend of Brian's. In one of the episodes, Matthew remembers a conversation between a foster child and the biological child of his foster parents. The foster child asks if he was okay with the fact that he had to share his home with foster siblings. He responds that he is okay with it, because he and his family have enough of everything.

"It was very meaningful to us as we were both raised that when you got up the ladder, you threw the ladder back," explained Matthew.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

Their Hearts Were Stolen First, Say These Foster Dads; Then Their Last Names

Foster dads Santiago Gutierrez and Cesar Espinoza have opened up their homes, and hearts, to a sibling group of two

Santiago Gutierrez, a 29-year-old digital moderator, and Cesar Espinoza, a 38-year-old technician, met 10 years ago while Santiago was working as a server at a restaurant. Cesar was there dining with friends, and even from afar, he was immediately taken by Santiago. He found out through another waiter that Santiago was single, so he left his name and number on a napkin, and a couple of days later Santiago texted him. After some back and forth, they met up for their first date. This past May 1, 2018, they were married.

Kids were always part of the plan for this San Antonio couple but an opportunity to become dads came into view a little earlier than planned. At the end of 2015, they found out that an acquaintance was pregnant, but did not want to be a parent. They raised the prospect of taking on that responsibility. "We were living a comfortable life and we wanted to share that with kids and provide happiness and love," said Santiago.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

LJay Ramirez, Who Was Placed in Foster Care as a Teenager, Just Became a Foster Dad Himself

LJay Ramirez has always wanted to be a foster dad since he was placed in foster care as a young teenager. He and his husband, Matt, just finalized the adoption of their 2-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son.

"We've learned that a two year old is by far the hardest person to negotiate with successfully," said new adoptive dad LJay Ramirez, speaking about his daughter. "A six year old has so many questions that anyone would see as common sense but he genuinely is curious about the world he lives in."

Bay area dads, LJay and his husband Matt Ramirez, finalized the adoption of their 2-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son on January 5, 2019. They describe their parenthood journey so far as "crazy, fun, and exciting." They became dads through the foster care system, something LJay always wanted to do since having first-hand experience when he was placed in foster care as a young teenager.

The new dads lives have changed tremendously since becoming dads, and now they have want to share their story with others.

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Change the World

How "Easy" Is It, Really, for Gay Men to Become Dads?

It's never been easier for gay men to become dads, but a recent Washington Post article, which includes interviews with four gay parents, gives voice to some of the challenges that persist.

In recent weeks, with reports like this one in eWire.News, and famous gay dads gracing the cover of Parents Magazine for the first time, a perception is growing that it's now "easy" for gay men to be dads now. To examine this idea, Washington Post recently interviewed four gay men who have become fathers at some point in the past 10 years to examine their experiences. What they found is that, yes, it's easier than ever before for gay men to become dads. But we still face many more barriers than our straight counterparts.

None of these barriers will be news to any gay man who has become a father. But it's helpful that major publications like the Washington Post are now starting to recognize and give voice to them.

The first "finding" from their conversations is that gay men need more "money in the bank" that straight people. With the exception of adoption through foster care, "the financial costs are often tantamount to buying a car or even a house outright," the author notes.

The article also notes that gay men--and fathers in general--are given less paternity leave in the United States on average than many other countries. One of the dads interviewed for the piece, who adopted his sone through foster care, said he could only afford to take two weeks of paternity leave, which was " too short," he said. His son "struggled to see me as the paternal figure — I was just the guy who went to work and came home from work later. That's a struggle for most dads whether gay or straight — but I wish I had gotten more time just to bond with him."

Gay dads also must do more "emotional heavy lifting," the author notes, noting that many attend therapy for many months before taking the plunge. "We don't come to parenting by accident," another dad interviewed in the piece said. "We come to it by way of a lot of money, and with great intentionality. That is the commonality among gay dads with children."

A final common experience to many of the gay dads interviewed in the piece were annoyances dealing with strangers. "The thing that has been the most difficult are strangers who don't understand," one of the dads said. "They see us out with our son and we don't fit into their little box of what a family looks like. I've been asked whether Jeffrey and I mixed our sperm together in a cup. And that's rude, but as our son gets older, he is being shaped by a certain narrative about who he is."

Read the whole article here.

Gay Dad Family Stories

Salt Lake Gay Couple Behind Viral Wedding Proposal Become Foster Dads

They've gone viral, appeared on Ellen, and were married by Queen Latifa. What can top all that? Fatherhood.

Photo credit: Tiffany Burke, Follow Your Art Photography.

Over 5 years ago, you might remember seeing an amazing proposal that took place in a Home Depot in Utah. With the help of close friends and family, Spencer organized an incredible flash mob to sweep Dustin off his feet. If you did see it, you're one of the 14 million viewers who did. (If you have been living under a rock, you can see the video below!)

The fiancés quickly became an overnight sensation thanks to this unbelievably romantic stunt. They even appeared on Ellen and were given engagement gifts. (You know you've made it once Ellen starts giving you stuff.) Dustin and Spencer were also part of a symbolic wedding ceremony with many other couples who were married during the 2014 Grammy's event, by Queen Latifa, while Macklemore sang "Same Love."

And for their next act? Fatherhood.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

These Dads Have Simple Advice For Other Gay Men Considering Foster Care: Put the Kids First

Though it took a full year to become licensed foster dads, Robby and David say it was a "wonderful experience."

Fostering has changed the lives of many dads in the Gays With Kids community. Sometimes the outcome of fostering can be heartbreaking, and other times, it's been the most joyous and wonderful new beginning for our families. Often times, it's both.

Although all the stories are different, one piece of advice we hear time and time again is this: remove your ego and put the children first. That's the one piece of advice foster-adopt dad, Robby Swagler, would give to anyone considering fostering.

Robby met his husband David Swagler, both 30 years old, when they were in college at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. They both loved kids and decided to become foster parents, inspired by the overwhelming number of children in the foster care system. They wanted to provide a loving home for a child in need.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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