Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Working:​ One Father's Plea for Gun Reform

One gay dad's plea to our leaders to enact sensible gun control

My articles on GaysWithKids aspire to be lighthearted, helpful and humorous. This one won't be any of those things. Because I'm feeling heavyhearted, helpless and sad. Last week I woke up to news of yet another mass shooting. This time at a family-friendly Garlic Festival in northern California. I don't know if it's because this one hit so close to home, or if it's because the headline included a picture of the innocent 6-year old who was among those killed, but I am overcome with emotion. But mostly I am angry. And I don't know what to do with my anger.

Then, just a few days later came two additional horrific mass shootings that stole the lives of at least 32 more innocent people, many of them children. And then there's the "everyday" gun violence that plagues American cities like Chicago, where guns injured another 46 people this past weekend alone… creating so much turmoil, a hospital had to briefly stop taking patients.

How does one verbalize the collective sadness felt around the world? One can't. And that's why I am asking everyone reading this article to commit to getting involved in some way, to help end this epidemic once and for all. Even though the solution is so obvious, we can't allow ourselves to become numb to mass shootings. Because becoming numb isn't going to save anyone.


In the United States, there have been more shootings in 2019 than days in the year. And this is exclusively an American problem. Car accidents. Cancer. Addiction. There are so many devastating ways to lose a child that are out of our control. But the one thing that is within our control is the one we do nothing about. Here's a sobering fact: Guns kill more children in the U.S. than Cancer. Let that sink in.

I promise you my intention here isn't to come off preachy or to politicize these horrific events, but I disagree when people say this is a non-partisan issue. It's very much a partisan issue. Democrats in congress desperately want and try to put policies in place that will help keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn't have them. The current administration blame everything but guns and keep blocking this gun legislation in the Senate. The no-brainer legislation that Democrats in Congress keep fighting for would expand background checks, enlist "red-flag" laws and ban assault weapons. Bill Clinton banned assault weapons in 1994 and mass shootings dropped 43%. Then, in 2004, the GOP let the ban expire and mass shootings went up over 230%.

Why won't Republicans do something that will clearly reduce this US-based form of terrorism? Because of money. Lawmakers in congress receive copious amounts of money from far-right backers like the NRA. And the NRA has spent 1.6 million dollars lobbying against background check expansion laws in the months leading up to the latest mass shootings.

I have a question for the people who have blocked sensible gun measures — fathers like Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and John Boehner…

How many dollars is your child worth?

Shame on these individuals, and on all the selfish assholes out there who keep screaming about their rights to personal arsenals while innocent people get gunned down. To think of so many parents losing so many children to something fundamentally preventable is shattering in its weight. And these cowards are to blame. But we all bare some of the responsibility. Gun reform doesn't happen because Americans don't want it enough. If we did, we wouldn't just accept it — we would do something about it. Until we all vote with the same unwavering intensity of the money-hungry sellout Republicans in congress, or until Democrats have total control of government, the base for unregulated gun access will always be more powerful than the constituency for gun control. That's why we ALL must do our part.

I'm going to say something else that might piss off certain people, but I don't care, it needs to be said. Any American that doesn't support advanced background checks is the very person we don't want owning guns. If you are a law-bidding citizen with a registered gun, no prior record and you are in good mental condition, you should have no problem supporting gun reform. YOU are not the problem... but doing nothing to help makes you complicit, and therefore, part of the problem.

No single legislation will solve this entire crisis, but even if stricter gun reform measures prevent just one innocent child's death, won't it all be worth it? If that child is yours, the answer is yes. Well, we have to act like all these deaths are ours. We have to treat all these murders as if they are happening to our family, in our community.

This isn't just happening to other people. It's happening to all of us. We are all El Paso. We are all Dayton. We are all Parkland. We are all Thousand Oaks. We are all Orlando. We are all Aurora. We are all Sandy Hook.

We have to feel the pain that these broken families feel. Because if we all collectively take on their hurt, anger, frustration and desperation, maybe we'll finally be heard… and get courageous Republican politicians to finally stand up and do the right thing.

It's literally worth a shot.

I am tired of feeling "lucky" to have made it home from a trip to Target alive… or a concert… or a Farmer's Market... or a movie theater. I am tired of worrying that the next one is going to affect my immediate family. I don't want my 8-year old son growing up in this version of America. A country where kids at elementary schools have active shooter drills. Is this what they mean when they say: make America great again?

And to all the Republicans who say "Guns don't kill people; people kill people"— stop. It's a stupid argument and you know it. Obviously, it starts with intent and that comes from the sick person's mind, but readily available and accessible guns make it a lot easier for mentally ill people to kill other people in great numbers. How many times do we hear about mass-stabbings? Seriously, stop saying it. It just makes you look simple.

How much more half-hearted talk will we have to sit through – and how many more precious lives will be lost in the meantime – before Congress finally acts? We must come together and turn our collective anger into vocal activism… to make congress wake up and stop ignoring this national emergency. We can't let more families be ripped apart by gun violence.

Now, please join me in the fight. All of our lives depend on it.

Here are 5 simple things we can all do right now to help make a difference:

DONATE TO A GUN REFORM GROUP:

https://everytown.org

http://momsdemandaction.org

https://www.bradyunited.org

https://ceasefireusa.org

https://www.csgv.org

https://marchforourlives.com

CALL YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS

One quick phone call can be very effective. Visit this website to see who represents you in the U.S. Congress. https://whoismyrepresentative.com Once you call, let them know that you are a constituent, that you vote for candidates that make gun reform a priority and that you expect to see them take strong action on common sense gun reforms like Universal Background Checks.

WRITE A LETTER TO YOUR LOCAL PAPER

It is easy. Find your local paper, learn how to send a "letter to the editor", and then send it. Click here for sample letters. https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/advocacy/direct-action/letters-to-editor/main

FACEBOOK YOUR REPRESENTATIVES

Find your representative on facebook and send them a message. It's easy.

For example: Dear Representative, I am your constituent and I vote. I am horrified about the gun violence epidemic in America and want action now. Specifically, I want to see legislation supporting Universal Background Checks on all gun sales.

REGISTER TO VOTE AND THEN VOTE

The NRA has 5 million members and when the NRA tells them who to vote for guess who the members for vote? NRA sponsored and NRA rated candidates. The NRA has the power to go to politicians and give them what they want. 1) Money and 2) votes. So you've got to make sure you register to vote! Do it here, now. https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote

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Politics

Utah Court Rules Gay Couples Can't Be Excluded From Surrogacy Contracts

The Utah Supreme Court found in favor of a gay couple attempting to enter into a surrogacy contract.

DRAKE BUSATH/ UTCOURTS.GOV

Earlier this month, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex couples can't be excluded from entering into enforceable surrogacy contracts, and sent a case concerning a gay male couple back to trial court to approve their petition for a surrogacy arrangement.

As reported in Gay City News, the case concerns Utah's 2005 law on surrogacy, which was enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state. As a result, the content of the law is gendered, saying that surrogacy contracts should only be enforceable if the "intended mother" is unable to bear a child. When a gay couple approached District Judge Jeffrey C. Wilcox to enter into a surrogacy arrangement, he denied them, arguing that the state's law only concerned opposite sex couples.

"This opinion is an important contribution to the growing body of cases adopting a broad construction of the precedent created by Obergefell v. Hodges and the Supreme Court's subsequent decision in Pavan v. Smith," according to GCN. "It's also worth noting that same-sex couples in Utah now enjoy a right denied them here in New York, where compensated gestational surrogacy contracts remain illegal for all couples."

Read the full article here.

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.

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Change the World

Judge's Decision in NY 'Compassionate Surrogacy' Case Involving Gay Dad Overturned

Though compensated surrogacy remains illegal in New York State, "compassionate surrogacy" arrangements are remain legal

Last week, an unanimous four-judge panel, part of the New York Appellate Division in Brooklyn, New York, revived a gay dad's petition to adopt his son born via surrogacy. The dad, identified as "Joseph P." in court documents, had earlier been denied his petition to adopt by a Queens County Family Court Judge, John M. Hunt. The Queens judge denied the petition because compensated surrogacy contracts are illegal in New York. However, the child born to Joseph was born via "compassionate surrogacy," meaning his gestational surrogate was not compensated.

The Appellate court's decision, written by Justice Alan D. Scheinkmanm called Hunt's decision "clearly erroneous," and held that a new Family Court judge should re-hear the case.

Judge Hunt's decision is all the more confusing since Joseph had actually already become a father via surrogacy in New York—three times over. In each instance, he used donor eggs and a friend serving, voluntarily, as the gestational surrogate. He had his first child in 2012, and then twins the following year. In all three instances, a Family Court judge granted Joseph's adoption petition, given that each child was conceived via "compassionate surrogacy," meaning no money changes hands in the course of a surrogacy journey between carrier an intended parent. This type of surrogacy arrangement is not illegal under to New York law. The social worker in Joseph's latest attempt to adopt, Gay City News noted, also gave him a favorable review, calling him "a mature, stable, and caring person who intentionally created a family of himself, the twins, and John."

Gay City News notes: "Justice Scheinkman provided a careful description of the laws governing surrogacy in New York. The Legislature provided that surrogacy contracts are unenforceable and treated as void. However, the only surrogacy contracts actually outlawed are those where the surrogate is compensated. It was clear to the Appellate Division that the Legislature did not mean to outlaw voluntary surrogacy arrangements, merely to make them unenforceable in the courts. Those who enter into a compensated surrogacy agreement face a small monetary fine and people who act as brokers to arrange such agreements are liable for a larger penalty. There is no penalty for voluntary, uncompensated surrogacy arrangements."

Read the full article here.

Fun

Gay Dad Penguins Strike Again! This Time in Berlin Zoo

The latest male penguins to care for an egg together are Skipper and Ping in the Berlin Zoo.

First, there was Roy and Silo — the two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo that served as inspiration for the famous children's book And Tango Makes Three. Then Magin Sphen got together in Sydney, where aquarium keepers gave the cocks (Calm down, that's what a male penguin is called!) a foster egg to care for.

And now, please welcome Skipper and Ping in Berlin to the latest list of gay dad penguins! As soon as the two emperor penguins arrived at the city's zoo, they set about trying to start a family, said Berlin Zoo spokesman Maximilian Jaege to DPA news.

"They kept trying to hatch fish and stones," Jaeger said.

So the zookeepers loaned the penguins an egg from a female penguin, who is apparently uninterested in hatching eggs on her own, according to the BBC.

Unsurprisingly, the gay penguins are killing it as parents. "The two male penguins are acting like exemplary parents, taking turns to warm the egg," Jaeger said,

Read the whole article on DPA here.

Change the World

Hungarian Company Raising Money for LGBTQ+ Organization with a LEGO® Heart

Startup WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD is helping combat misinformation and prejudice in Central and Eastern Europe

Guest Post from WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD

WE LOVE WHAT YOU BUILD is an innovative startup venture that sells LEGO® parts and unique creations. The core values of our company include social equality regardless of gender identity or origin. As LEGO® is a variety of colors and shapes, so are the people.

We all know that LEGO® is a brand that nearly everyone knows and likes between the age of 3 and 99 so this gives a great opportunity to connect unique LEGO® creations and Pride. We started a fundraising campaign for a Hungarian LGBTQ+ organization who's aim is to bring people closer to the LGBTQ+ community, they help to combat misinformation and prejudice regarding LGBTQ+ issues in Central- Eastern Europe since 2000.

You might know that gender equality and the circumstances of LGBTQ+ people is not the easiest in the former communist Eastern European countries like Hungary so this program is in a real need for help. For example a couple of month ago a member of the government said that homosexual people are not equal part of our society.

The essence of the campaign is when one buys a Pride Heart, a custom creation made of brand new and genuine LEGO® bricks the organization gets $10.00 donation so they can continue their important work. This Pride Heart is a nice necklace, a decoration in your home, and a cool gift to the one you love.

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Entertainment

Single Gay Dad Featured on Season Three of GLOW

Actor Kevin Cahoon joins the Gorgeous Ladies of Wresting in Vegas as a single gay dad — and drag queen — on Season Three of the hit Netflix show

For a couple of years now, Hollywood has been obsessed with gay dad characters (and who can blame them?) But the latest show to get hip to a story line featuring gay man raising kids is Netflix's GLOW, which explores a female wresting troop in the late 1980s.

But GLOW is helping represent a gay character that rarely gets time in the limelight:the single gay dad. In Season three of the hit comedy — which stars Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, and Marc Maron — actor Kevin Cahoon joins the case as Bobby Barnes, a single gay father who plays a female impersonator. (80s divas only, of course — Joan Collins and Babs among them)


"I've never done female impersonation," the openly gay actor told OutSmart Magazine, "so I tried to learn really quick. You will know them all; I was very familiar with all of them. There were plenty of talk shows and performances on YouTube to study. I learned that their breathing was very informative."

A single gay dad AND drag queen on television? It's about damn time if you ask us.

Read the full interview with Cahoon here.

Politics

Gay Russian Dads Forced to Flee Moscow

Fearing the Russian government might take their adopted kids into custody because of their sexual orientation, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev fled Moscow

A married couple in Russia, with two adopted children, were just forced the flee their home in Moscow for fear that the authorities would take their children away, according to German news site Deutsche Welle.

Trouble started last month after investigators in Russia opened a criminal inquiry into the proceedings that had allowed the gay couple, Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, to legally adopt the two boys —adoption by LGBTQ people in Russia has typically not been recognized. The government became aware of the adoption proceedings after the gay couple brought their 12-year-old son to the hospital, who was complaining of a stomachache. The boy was fine, but after he mentioned offhand that he was adopted and lived with two fathers, the doctor called the police.

Andrei and Yevgeny granted an interview with Deutsche Welle after escaping Moscow, but on the advice of their lawyers have yet to disclose where they are currently located. Here is a quick recap of that conversation:

"In connection with the 'propaganda of non-traditional values,' the state representatives are accused of having neglected their duty of supervision," Andrei said, when asked to explain on what basis the Russian government might take his children into custody. "This means that lesbian couples could even have their biological children taken away because, through their lifestyle choices, they propagate "certain values."

Yevgeny also explained the events that led to the couple's harrowing escape "I was alone in Moscow at that time. A week after Andrei and the children had left the country, there was a knock on my door, but nobody called 'police, open up.' After half an hour the violent knocking stopped. My parents' home was searched. They were looking for the children and our Danish marriage certificate because we got married in Denmark in 2016. My friends then got me out of the country."

Read the full interview here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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