Human Rights Campaign
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Circle Surrogacy came to Atlanta today to put on what turned out to be a wonderful informational seminar for Same Sex (Gay) Adoptions and Surrogacy. A big thanks to all those who showed up and participated as well as the excellent panel which included John Weltman, the founder of Circle Surrogacy.
Although I'm not personally considering surrogacy or adoption, the opportunity presented itself as great source of information as well as a LGBT community resource for our social members as well other locally organizations.
Of which, I had the great pleasure of meeting up with Kathy Kelly, Executive Director of MEGA Family Project. MEGA (megafamilyproject.org) is known throughout Georgia for their education support, advocacy and LGBT family assistance. I encourage you all to get behind this organization as I intend to further support Kathy and her team. Great to meet wonderful folks like Fernando Rengifo "Fercho", also pictured above, which proves supportive networking and helping our own community is not just a desire, but a necessity.
Those in attendance received a great deal of information on Georgia adoptions as well as laws within the state concerning surrogacy. To my surprise there are no laws in the state of Georgia regarding the surrogacy, the highly expensive medical/legal procedure. For all those who could not be in attendance, look out for the video on Circle's Youtube Channel.
Thanks again to John, Nancy and Ron and the rest of "Circle" team for a great event.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
As you know, I like to bring new information to you from around the world as well as from all over the nation to keep you aware and informed of all the LGBT happenings and news. You really have to be excited about what seems like a slew of late breaking advancements in the realms of equality.
Since we have been focusing so much lately on adoptions and surrogacies, I wanted to share this latest update about "Second Parent Adoptions". A second parent adoption is a legal procedure that allows a same-sex parent to adopt a partner’s biological or adoptive child without terminating the legal rights of the first parent. Most importantly, unlike the same sex marriage issues, States must honor second-parent adoptions from other states.
Second-parent adoption is authorized in California by statute - and where appellate courts have ruled that the state adoption law permits second-parent adoption.
A statute is a law passed by a legislature. An appellate court is about appeals. It has the power to review the judgment of another lower court or tribunal. Second-parent adoption is authorized by statute in Colorado, Connecticut, and Vermont.
Appellate courts have ruled that the state adoption law permits second-parent adoption in the District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Trial courts have granted second-parent adoptions in Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington.
Appellate courts have ruled that state adoption law does NOT permit second-parent adoption in Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
It is unclear in the following 22 states whether the state adoption law permits second- parent adoptions: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
But what is important is, you have to know whats going on around you in order to ensure you clearly understand what it is you support and lobby for. Familyblendz is happy to bring this information to you. Stay informed.
Monday, October 12, 2009
On this path to Equality for all americans, it appears safe to ask the question, "Are you Gay or a Gay American first"? I am neither...first. I am an American first. Before we begin discussing how others can be more fair to the GLBT community, we might need to ensure we are being true to our american pledge as well.
We want secured borders, safe schools and places of employment, as well as freedoms to speak, worship and to protest. That's not to limit all of the things in between, but for one moment, should we burn the flag of that which offers us so much that others would spill their blood to have?
Just as equality came to women,President Woodrow Wilson in 1920, urged Congress to pass what became the 19 Amendment which prohibited state and federal agencies from gender-based restrictions on voting,the american process should not be ignored to move the political agenda in our direction.
President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 15th Amendment eliminating skin color from voting elibility, therefore awarding people of color their voice in 1964.
Today, President Obama raises two daughters that look just like mine in the White House and could very well be the president who give me and the rest of the GLBT a voice...even within our american-ism. Today my daughters are not "female americans" nor do I consider myself an "African American"...I am an American. And after this equality battle is over, I will still be just an american.
The Father of daughters who have a voice thanks to the Womens Sufferage Movement; I am of african descent, yet with a strong voice within the electoral college thanks to Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement; I am Gay...and speaking Out-loud in the Gay Rights/Equality Movement!
The New York City Council passed a resolution Wednesday supporting a congressional bill to allow American citizens to sponsor their foreign-born, same-sex partners in the naturalization process.
The idea behind this goes kinda like this; Anyone who is not from the United States may be permitted to begin the Naturalization, or path to citizenship through their sponsorship or "partnering" up of their same sex significant other. Clearly, their are problems with this. You have to almost begin by wondering, "where do you start first with this one"?
First, this path has left a bitter taste with hetero couples. How many people or stories have you heard with someone from another country paying someone to marry them and live with them for 2yrs, federal law, so they could apply for citizenship? Those problems won't go away, they will only increase.
Gay Immigration sounds like a great idea, but I can't help but think "are we ready for this legal fight"? We very well may, but what a slippery slope that will be. I am one of those "americans" who are strong supporters of an even stronger immigration policy-to prevent illegals and undocumented workers from entering the country. Or even worse, to ensure terrorists are not allowed in through relaxed policies. So how can I be strong on immigration reform, but willing to relax those same policies for the GLBT community?
It almost goes against the 'Equality we are all fighting for. Well, that's my soap box. The resolution on the Uniting American Families Act of 2009 was passed within two weeks of being introduced. Eight people, including Immigration Equality executive director Rachel Tiven, testified to the Immigration Committee on September 29 in favor of the resolution.
Jerrold Nadler, a congressman representing parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan, is the leading sponsor of the House's version of the bill. Vermont's Patrick Leahy is the sponsor of the Senate's version.
Let's make sure, we don't allow politicians a free ride on their campaign pledges. What I mean is, they propose legislation that they know won't get passed, but they win a feather in their hats, simply because they proposed it. That shouldn't be enough. Mr. Leahy, I truly feel like this is one of those times. The Senate is no where close to relaxing immigration laws for hetero americans, they're definitely not considering relaxing these rules for the GLBT community.
Keep in mind, John McCain stayed closed in the run upto 'election '08 simply because he was able to rally the GOP around Immigration Reform. Let's keep our eye's on the ball folks...this dog won't hunt.
Just when you thought the Terminator was done, Act 2 was set to begin, stage left. Seriously, The GOP governor of California vowed to ensure that the creation of a State holiday named for Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician to be elected to office in California. Last year the Governor vetoed such a day and had threatened to do so gain this year.
Well he did it. Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill that will call on the state to do a few things so let me break it down for you! (ONE)Recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who were legally married in other states during the brief time that same-sex marriages were legal in California. So lets get this right, although same sex marriages are no longer legal in Cally, the Gov has made it possible to acknowledge marriages that took place in other states during the same time California allowed it.
(TWO)He also approved legislation to expand services for LGBT survivors of domestic violence. Now that's huge! State resources for the gay communnity that protects those involved in domestic violence, lol, and cat-fights.
Schwarzenegger did veto the "Equal ID Act," which would allow transgender individuals to obtain revised birth certificates certifying their current gender. But honestly, thats crazy anyway, but thats just me talking. He also vetoed a "LGBT Prisoner Safety Act," which would have called for gender identity and orientation to be considered when housing prisoners.
Supporters wanted to mark May 22 as an annual Harvey Milk Day. They had pinned their hopes on the attention garnered by the film "Milk" late last year after Schwarzenegger’s previous veto. But the governor countered Milk’s accomplishments were not well known enough outside the Bay Area to merit a holiday.
"The Harvey Milk Day bill marks the first time in the nation’s history that a state will officially recognize and celebrate the contributions of an openly LGBT person with an annual day of special significance," said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California. "Californians will now learn about Harvey’s amazing contributions to the advancement of civil rights for decades to come. He is a role model to millions, and this legislation will help ensure his legacy lives on forever."
Kors expressed gratitutde to the Governor for signing these measures into law "and rising above partisan politics to improve the lives of LGBT Californians."
"The Marriage Recognition and Family Protection Act" calls on the state to recognize same-sex marriages conducted in 2008 outside the state before voters enacted Proposition 8 ended marriage equality in California. Listen, thats huge. Let's not overlook the small accomplishments. This is a step-step process.
"When California offered marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2008, spouses who were already married in another state or country were prohibited from re-marrying in California," said the bill’s author, Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). "Now those couples and their families are in limbo because their rights and protections under law are not clear. This new law will ensure that same-sex couples are protected by existing California law that recognizes all marriages equally, regardless of where they are performed."
Harvey Milk Day is largely ceremonial. State offices won’t close, although schools are encouraged to provide information about Milk on that day. More immediate and concrete results may be seen from the "LGBT Domestic Violence Programs Expansion Bill", which will fund LGBT-specific domestic violence programs throughout the state through a $23 fee tacked onto domestic partnership registrations. The bill also modifies the requirements funding seekers must meet.
"Given the shortage of adequate care for our community," said bill author Assemblyman John P√©rez (D-Los Angeles), "I am thrilled that this legislation will help ensure that all LGBT survivors of domestic violence will have increased access to culturally competent care and resources."
Circle Surrogacy has helped bring to the world over 250 babies since 1995. They have assisted couples and singles, gay and straight, from more than 30 different countries -- from as far away as Dubai, Afghanistan, Russia, Israel and Australia, as well as almost every European country, Canada and Columbia. They also have personnel in Boston, New York, Texas, Indiana and Arizona, and we work with all of the Harvard teaching hospitals and fertility centers in the Boston area, Connecticut, New York and California. They work with fertility centers from all over the country.
I wanted to present some of this information to you because I have been getting emails and questions regarding both adoptions and surrogacy. Lets not kid each other, surrogacy can be extremely expensive, yet what it provides is something that ultimately can't be bought.
As the next seminar for adoption and surrogacy approaches, think about attending to gain information on your own as well as have many of your questions answered by professionals as well as those who have already done it.
familyblendz is not affiliated with Circle Surrogacy and Adoptions, but this organization has a long history of working with Same sex Couples in America and goes above and beyond to help the GLBT community in starting families of their own.
Through some back channels, I was invited today to play a role in getting this seminar off the ground in the GLBT Community. We will continue some of these discussions tomorrow in our meeting with the Human Rights Campaign in Atlanta.
FamilyBlendz is eager to do whatever we can to not only share our experiences with raising children you and the rest of the GLBT-World, but we also want to ensure you are building a strong family base in your own life. Elle and I also want to ensure that those who desire these responsibilities as Same Sex Couples enjoy the right to do so.
As soon as I get more information I will surely pass it on to you! Email me your name(s) to "firstname.lastname@example.org" if you are interested in attending the Circle Surrogacy and Adoption Seminar in Atlanta. This IS A FREE EVENT!! I will be in contact with you regarding further information.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
In the aftermath of the U.S's failed military policy "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", Obama last night pledged to do away with the unfair practice as I blogged during the live event on CSPAN, all the dirt and secrets are begining to ooze out like an infected puss. We find that Women were dismissed from the military for being gay at a greater rate than men last year, according to new statistics obtained by a California research group.
All the services kicked out a disproportionate number of women under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, according to Department of Defense data obtained by the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The center studies gender and sexuality in the military.
The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, implemented in 1994, bans troops who are openly gay from serving in the military.
In the Air Force, a majority of those removed were women, the first time a service has had such a record since the implementation of the controversial law in 1994, according to Palm Center senior research fellow Nathaniel Frank.
In fiscal year 2008, the Air Force dismissed 56 women and 34 men.
In addition, the Army removed more women under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy at a greater rate than men when compared with the ratio of women to men in each service.
Of those discharged under the policy, 36 percent were women, although women make up only 14 percent of troops in the Army, the data showed.
I love former president Bill Clinton, however, even before signing the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, which defined marriage in America as being between a man and a woman, he signed "Don't Ask..." into law in his first year as president! Oddly enough, Mr. Obama has pledged to repeal them both in the first year of his presidency...LOL. Are'nt they both democrats?
Let this be the hint coming from familyblendz that you haven't heard yet. The opposition to Mr. Obama for his gay rights agenda, and thank God for it, won't come from the what is believed to be the most obvious foes, the republicans, but instead this enemy is already "inside the encampment";democrats.
Interestingly enough, last night President Obama pledged to continue his stance to get DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act repealed on the floor of the U.S. Congress. I will continue to say that the president repeated that pledge with the largest gay rights organization in the country as his audience on the eve of todays Equality March taking place in D.C.
Problem with that stance, that pledge, is that it won't be that simple. Let me first take the stance I always take and that is this. Know exactly what it is you are fighting for. Are you more interested in calling your same sex relationship a "marriage" or are you more interested in having that relationship be treated fairly and respected because you possess the rights of a marriage?
We seem to get so lost in the titles that we miss the forest for the trees. It might just sound like symantecs to you, but it sounds the same way to the opposition as well. For example, DOMA, was signed into law back in 1996, when then President Bill Clinton sat in the Oval. Lets be clear about what exactly DOMA is. It a bill that DEFENDS THE DEFINITION OF WHAT A MARRIAGE IS IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!
And that definition was signed into law by one our countries most famous democratic presidents. Why? Because by overwhelming majorities in the House and in the Senate, Congress wanted to define marriage to prevent states from peeling off with their own interpretations. Kinda like whats happening now.
So although Mr. Obama wants to repeal DOMA which would simply allow states to make their own choices, which is fine for us @ familyblendz;trying to get Congress to actually vote to change the definition of what a marriage is would be a death sentence to many democrats back home in their districts.
Back to my original point though. What stops Domestic Partnerships from providing the same rights of the same sex couples from mirroring those of hetero couples? What are you gaining other than a title? Do you gain nothing because you can't have it all? Do you continue to throw the babies out with the water just because you can't get the water as warm as you like it?
Remember, the fight we wage is for equality, not branding;it is for rights, not wants. This message never goes over well among my LGBT folks, however, call it what you like, but in the meantime, families are hurting, loved ones are being denied access and benefits to children are being taken away (Arizona's recent Equality repeal).
Defend Marriage all you want, I and the rest of familyblendz will defend equality!