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.

News

World's First Sperm Bank Opens for HIV Positive Donors

Sperm Positive, started by three non-profits in New Zealand, hopes to end stigma surrounding HIV and parenthood

"Our donors have so much to give," say the promotional materials of a new sperm bank. "But they can't give you HIV."

The new sperm bank, Sperm Positive, launched on World Aids Day this year by three non-profits as a way to fight stigma surrounding HIV and parenthood. For years, scientists have known that those living with an undetectable level of HIV in their blood thanks to antiretroviral treatments can't transmit the virus through sex or childbirth. Yet discrimination and stigma persists.

The sperm bank exists online only, but will connect donors and those seeking donations with fertility banks once a connection is made on their site. Sperm Positive was started by three New Zealand non-profits — Body Positive, the New Zealand Aids Foundation and Positive Women Inc. — who hope the project will help disseminate science-backed education and information about HIV and parenthood.

Already, three HIV positive men have signed up to serve as donors, including Damien Rule-Neal who spoke to the NZ Herald about his reasons for getting involved in the project. "I want people to know life doesn't stop after being diagnosed with HIV and that it is safe to have children if you're on treatment," he told the Herald. "I've experienced a lot of stigma living with HIV, both at work and in my personal life that has come from people being misinformed about the virus."

We applaud the effort all around! To read more about our own efforts to end the stigma surround HIV and parenthood, check out our recent round-up of family profiles, resources, and expert advice that celebrate the experience of gay dads living with HIV here.

Expert Advice

Get the Book: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction

Dr. Kim Bergman's new book "Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Reproduction" breaks down surrogacy, egg donation and sperm donation.

Guest post written by Dr. Kim Bergman

If you are reading this article, chances are good that you are thinking about building a family. You've been dreaming about your baby, first smiles and first steps, family vacations and holidays spent together. As with any dream, you might need some help to fulfill it. Thanks to advancements in medical technology, and a changing legal climate assisted reproductive technologies (ART) for the LGBTQI community can help make your dream a reality.

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Gay Dad Life

What No One Tells Gay Men About Sperm Donation

Michael Albo reveals everything you wanted to know — and some things you probably didn't — about the sperm donor process

No one tells you how difficult it is to aim your ejaculate. You will be sitting there in one of the strange jerk-off rooms at a donation clinic, and you will have to get the cup (a small, plastic cup like a urine sample container) in the right position and squirt in a precise yet still orgasmic way that you probably have never done before. It’s not easy at all — unless, maybe, you have done porn. They will probably have a lounge chair set up for you. Often this chair will be covered in butcher paper. I found that very un-sexy, and discovered the best position for me was to jerk off while on my knees, holding the cup below me like I was asking for change on the street. Maybe this will work for you too.

No one tells you that these donation clinics you go to will have no gay porn. That’s because gay men aren’t really allowed in these facilities (more on that later). You will be relying on old wrinkled Hustler magazines and porn DVDs with names like “Sorority Scandals” and “My Boss’s Daughter.” The porn offerings will often have very long “lesbian” scenes of women eating each other out. Other scenes will consist of a woman with a tongue piercing and thick contoured makeup pretending she is a teenager or in a college dorm getting fucked by a douchebag straight porn actor who often has a ponytail and wears black front-pleated pants.

Hopefully, like me, you will learn to like straight porn. Straight porn guys turn me on because they are always horny and seem less perfect than those groomed, perfect geldings that trot through gay male porn. You see gay porn stars in Provincetown or on Instagram, swaggering around, stroking their eight-packs, beaming out their beauty like you will never stand a chance. Straight porn actors are, ironically, more attainable, and that makes them hot.

No one tells you that you can, of course, smuggle in your own porn into these clinics. But you should make it a DVD (and have a computer with a DVD player) or you will have to ask the staff for the WiFi code.  I couldn’t bring myself to do that because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. The reason is (no one tells you this) that you and the female friend you are trying to make a baby with need to portray yourselves as “active sexual partners” because you are doing “fresh” insemination as opposed to frozen, and fresh insemination can only happen (at least in clinics in NYC) between “active sexual partners,” because, I guess, that way the clinic can’t be sued if you give your active sexual partner an STD.

All this is to say that a gay man and a lesbian coming here to have a baby is not really condoned. Gay men aren’t really allowed in clinics. Sperm donation, essentially, is inherently homophobic.

No one in these clinics really monitors this, though. They are too busy and have seen too many other people that day to care about you and your personal situation. Still, you and your lesbian friend will feel like you don’t want to make waves and, when you enter the clinics, you will pretend you are active sexual partners just to make sure you don’t stand out.

No one tells you how, when delivering your sperm in the little cup to the lab downstairs from your jerk-off room, that you will feel this sense of accomplishment. And when your friend goes in to get the sperm squirted up her, (the woman you are doing this for who you love and want to make happy, even though you are gay and she is a lesbian and she and her girlfriend will be the parents and you will not be a primary parent) the sperm technician (or whatever you call them) told her, “This is an amazing sample! Great motility! A dense concentration!” and you will feel like a stud, like you are one of the gladiators in “300.”

No one tells you that before you donate, you will make rules for yourself, like “Okay, I won’t have any sex while I am donating.” If it doesn’t take the first time, after a month or two this rule will change to, “Okay I won’t have any sexual intercourse in my mouth or butt” and then after three months it will change to “Okay no butt sex,” which will then, after five months, change to “Okay butt sex but of COURSE with a condom and no orgasming during penetration!”

No one tells you that you will re-examine your sex life. You will look into how guilty you feel all the time for the gay sex you are having. And you will feel horrible about yourself, like the diseased lowlife that mainstream culture views gay men (who aren’t shiny and married and monogamous). You will begin to realize how much you identify with your sperm.

No one tells you that sperm, that stuff you have seen come out of you hundreds of times (oh god maybe thousands?) suddenly becomes more an essence of you than you had thought. It becomes a definition of your life — your virility, your health, your diet. For us single sexually active gay men, it also becomes the sexual secret you have been hiding, the part of you that you keep hidden from everyone else. Because when your sperm goes into the vagina of your lesbian friend, no matter how safe and careful you may have been, you think: Oh god, what if I gave her syphilis?

No one tells you how much of an emotional journey this act of donating sperm will be. You will meet some guys who just donate and move on with their lives and you are impressed by their ability to separate themselves from the child they created. Some even have families of their own. But you, you single gay male who never ever thought you would be a father or parent or child-bearer of any kind, will feel things you haven’t even felt before, or allowed yourself to feel before. And, if you aren’t the primary parent, you will even begin to question: how much am I allowed to feel?

No one tells you that after all this, when your friend is pregnant and you “come out” to your friends as a sperm donor, countless people will ask you these two questions: “Are you going to be involved?” and “What are you going to call yourself?” You will have your answers for these relentless questions, but, gradually, you won’t feel like you need to define who you are to other people. If you are lucky enough to have a very tough, cool sister in law, you will be put at ease by her when she said, “Who the fuck cares what you call yourself? You are Mike! And you are an awesome “Mike,” and that’s enough!”

No one tells you any of this. So, I am telling you this now. I hope it helps make your donation adventure easier.

Illustration by Braulio Amado

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If you missed it, read the first part, "Hippie Hal: The Three-Peat Known Sperm Donor," first.

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When my friends Tori and Kelly first asked me to serve as their sperm donor two years ago, I took nearly four months before agreeing. That may seem like a long while to keep my friends hanging, but I needed that time to carefully talk my decision over with family, friends, my landlord, the barista at my local coffee shop, and pretty much any other poor soul who made the mistake of casually asking me how “things” were going during that four-month stretch.

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