Politics

Out Congressman — and Adoptive Dad of Three — Testifies Against Trump Administration's Anti-LGBTQ Adoption Policies

New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, who is openly gay and a father of three, recently testified against the Trump administrations anti-LGBTQ adoption policies in the name of "religious freedom."

In November of 2019, the Trump administration's Department of Health and Human Services proposed a discriminatory rule that would allow foster care and adoption agencies to refuse to work with prospective LGBTQ adoptive parents based on religious objections. During a hearing in February to discuss this rule, openly gay Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, who has represented New York's 18th Congressional district since 2013, delivered an impassioned and personal testimony against the proposal.

"Good parents are good parents," he said. "Bad parents are bad parents — it doesn't matter what they look like, or who they love."

For Representative Maloney and his husband Randy Florke the issue is personal. Together, the couple have adopted three children. "I've been with my husband for almost 28 years," he said. "We were allowed to get married just five years ago, and for 27 of those years we've been raising children." The couple adopted their oldest child when he was not quite three years old, he said — and was barely eating solid foods. "He was sleeping in a drawer. He was living in squalor in one of the toughest neighborhoods in New York City." The boy's parents were heroine addicts, he explained, and unable to care for him.

"We didn't set out to be parents," he said. "But someone asked us if we could help, and we said we would." It was the "greatest thing" to happen to the couple, he said.

Watch the full testimony below:

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Pro-LGBTQ Effort in Michigan Moves to Collect Signatures Electronically

To keep volunteers and supporters safe amid the Covid-19 outbreak, pro-LGBTQ ballot measure effort in Michigan has gone fully digital.

Earlier this year, a coalition of pro-LGBTQ civil rights, business and political leaders launched a petition to expand Michigan law by including anti-discrimination protections for gay and transgender residents. Fair and Equal Michigan was created on Tuesday, January 7th, with the goal to create a citizens' bill in the State Legislature after advocates collect 340,047 citizen signatures.

COVID-19 has presented an obvious challenge to that effort. But earlier this week, the coalition announced it would move its campaign moving forward by transitioning to an electronic signature collection strategy.

"To keep our supporters safe and to recognize the stay-at-home orders by the state, we are encouraging people to sign the petition for LGBTQ equality electronically during this unique moment," said Fair and Equal Michigan Co-Chair Trevor Thomas. "This transition to electronic signature collection will ensure Michigan voters can continue to participate in the democratic process and exercise their reserved constitutional right to initiate legislation while doing their part to stop the spread of coronavirus."

To sign the petition, supporters can simply visit the coalition's website at www.FairAndEqualMichigan.com. The process to sign one's name takes no more than three minutes. Supporters will need a valid Michigan driver's license or state identification card number in order to contribute their names.

Already, Fair and Equal Michigan has collected more than 150,000 signatures. The group has until May 27, the state mandated deadline, to reach the 340,047 valid signatures needed. The coalition plans to collect well more than that — 542,000 signatures by the deadline — for quality control purposes. Upon the submission of signatures, the Legislature will then have 40 days to adopt the initiative as written or send it for voters to decide in the November election.

If the ballot measure passes, Michigan would join 21 other states with laws that already prohibit discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Politics

Gestational Surrogacy Legalized in New York State

The Child-Parent Security Act, which legalizes commercial surrogacy in New York State, was included in the 2020 New York State Budget signed by Governor Cuomo

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.

The effort stalled last year after opponents, including several Democrats, successfully argued that the bill didn't go far enough to protect women who serve as surrogates — even though it included a surrogate "bill of rights," the first of its kind in the country, aimed at ensuring protections.

"Millions of New Yorkers need assistance building their families — people struggling with infertility, cancer survivors impacted by treatment, and members of the LGBTQ+ community," the Family Equality Council said in a statement about the victory. "For many, surrogacy is a critically important option. For others, it is the only option. Passage of the Child-Parent Security Act is a massive step forward in providing paths to parenthood for New Yorkers who use reproductive technology, and creates a 'surrogate's bill of rights' that will set a new standard for protecting surrogates nationwide."

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."


Politics

Michigan Residents Gain Signatures to Prohibit LGBTQ Discrimination

Michigan Gains 100,000 Signatures to stop discrimination within the LGBTQ community.

A coalition of civil rights, business and political leaders are launching a petition to expand Michigan law by including anti-discrimination protections for gay and transgender residents. It was an idea first proposed in the year 1983 and has grown extremely popular due to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015. Trevor Thomas, a co-chair of the new Fair and Equal Michigan ballot committee and board chair for Equality Michigan Action stated, "We just want to be judged on the job we do — not who we are or who we love—and we want to be treated equally in the eyes of government."

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Politics

New Report Finds Paid Family Leave Rising Among Top Employers

PL+US report has found paid family and medical leave policies more popular than ever among nation's top employers

PL+US, an organization that advocates for paid family leave policies for all families, released a report that showed paid family and medical leave policies gaining steam among the nation's top employers. In a first, the non-profit expanded its research this year to examine the largest employment sectors in the country to help show what policies look like for workers in different sectors.

Among the report's main findings:

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News

Indiana Court Says Couples Using Sperm Donors​ Can Both Be Listed on Birth Certificate — But Ruling Excludes Male Couples

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the case, a major victory for LGBTQ parents — but the Attorney General may appeal to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, a US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling from a lower court that said that both parents in a same-sex relationship are entitled to be listed on the birth certificate — previously, the state of Indiana had required the non-biological parent within a same-sex relationship using assisted reproductive technologies to adopt their child after the birth in order to get her or his name listed on the birth certificate, a lengthy and expensive process not required of straight couples in the same situation.

It's a double standard LGBTQ parents have long been subjected to in many states across the country. So this represent a major win. As reported by CNN, this ruling "takes a lot of weight off" the shoulders of LGBTQ parents, said Karen Celestino-Horseman, a lawyer representing one of the couples in the case. "They've been living as families and wondering if this was going to tear them apart."

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals deliberated the case, according to CNN, for more than two and a half years, which is one of the longest in the court's history.

However, because all the plaintiffs in the case involved female same-sex couples using sperm donors, the ruling left open the similar question of parenting rights with respect to male couples. Indiana's Attorney General, moreover, may also appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

We'll be following the case closely and be sure to keep you up to date. For more on this recent decision, read CNN's article here.

Change the World

"Dadvocates" Gather in D.C. to Demand Paid Family Leave for ALL Parents

"Dadvocate" and new gay dad Rudy Segovia joined others in D.C. recently to educate lawmakers on the need for paid family leave for ALL parents

On Tuesday October 22, Dove Men+Care and PL+US (Paid Leave for the United States) led the Dads' Day of Action on Capitol Hill. A group of over 40 dads and "dadvocates" from across the states lobbied key member of Congress on the issue of paid paternity leave for *ALL* dads. They shared stories of their struggles to take time off when welcoming new family members and the challenges dads face with no paid paternity leave.

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News

Michigan Judge Allows Faith-Based Discrimination Against LGBTQ Adoptive Parents to Continue

Discrimination against LGBTQ parents can continue in Michigan, says judge

Last month, U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker ruled in a motion that faith-based adoption agencies are allowed to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents on the basis of religious belief. The state's Attorney General, Dana Nessel, asked the judge for a stay while she appealed the decision to a higher court. Last week, the judge denied the motion, effectively allowing adopting agencies to discriminate immediately.

The case involves St. Vincent Catholic Charities, who sued the state of Michigan, contending the adoption agency should be exempt from the state's anti-discrimination laws on the grounds that LGBTQ parenthood violets the church's religious beliefs.

This decision "turns the status quo on its head rather than maintaining it," Attorney General Nessel said in her motion. She wrote further that such a move "presents significant, potential injury" to children who need homes, and limits "the number of applicable families for children in a foster care system who desperately need families."

The judge, in turn wrote that "Under the attorney general's current interpretation of Michigan law and the parties' contracts, St. Vincent must choose between its traditional religious belief, and the privilege of continuing to place children with foster and adoptive parents of all types."

We'll be following this case as Attorney General Nessel's office appeals this decision. Read more about the case here.

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