Indiana Birth certificate battle moves to 7th Circuit

Indiana

Despite a change in state leadership, Indiana will continue fighting over birth certificates in a move that is being seen as part of a larger ongoing resistance to same-sex marriage.

Indiana has appealed the ruling in Henderson v. Adams, 17-1141, which allowed married non-birth mothers to be listed as a parent on the child’s birth certificate. The Pence administration refused to recognize these women as parents and twice tried to convince the district court to limit the scope of the state’s parenthood statutes.

Although a new governor has been installed, the state is turning to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals but has not yet submitted a brief stating what issue it wants the appellate panel to address. Neither Gov. Eric Holcomb nor Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill responded to phone and email messages seeking comment.gay parents adopting, same sex paretners

“I had been hopeful that with a new attorney general and a new governor we would see a change in the state’s handling of this matter,” said Karen Celestino-Horseman, one of attorneys representing the couples in Henderson.

The plaintiffs in Henderson, a group of married lesbian couples, challenged Indiana’s stance that non-birth mothers are not parents because they are not biologically related to the children. Their primary argument was that they were being treated differently from similarly situated heterosexual couples who had undergone artificial insemination. The men in those marriages were still listed as the father on the birth certificate even though they didn’t share a biological connection with the offspring.

Judge Tanya Walton Pratt of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana overturned the state’s parenthood statutes, finding they violate the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the 14th Amendment.

The state subsequently filed a motion asking the court to modify and clarify the ruling. Walton Pratt denied the motion to amend the judgment but granted the state’s request to clarify how the judgment should be applied, pointing out “the Order means what it says and says what it means.”

The IndianaLawyer.com, by Marilyn Odendahl, February 8, 2017

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Boy Scouts, Reversing Century-Old Stance, Will Allow Transgender Boys

boy scouts

Reversing its stance of more than a century, the Boy Scouts of America said on Monday that the group would begin accepting members based on the gender listed on their application, paving the way for transgender boys to join the organization.

“For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America, along with schools, youth sports and other youth organizations, have ultimately deferred to the information on an individual’s birth certificate to determine eligibility for our single-gender programs,” the group said in a statement on its website. “However, that approach is no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state.”

The announcement, reported on Monday night by The Associated Press, reverses a policy that drew controversy late last year when a transgender boy in New Jersey was kicked out of the organization about a month after joining.Boy Scouts

“After weeks of significant conversations at all levels of our organization, we realized that referring to birth certificates as the reference point is no longer sufficient,” Michael Surbaugh, the Scouts’ chief executive, said in a recorded statement on Monday.

The announcement came amid a national debate over transgender rights, with cities and states across the nation struggling with whether and how to regulate gender identity in the workplace, in restrooms and at schools.

In recent years, the Boy Scouts of America has expanded rights for gay people. In 2013, the group ended its ban on openly gay youths participating in its activities. Two years later, the organization ended its ban on openly gay adult leaders.

Advocates for gay and transgender people who had pushed for changes in Boy Scouts’ policy praised Monday’s announcement.

“From our perspective, they clearly did the right thing,” said Zach Wahls, who co-founded Scouts for Equality, a nonprofit group that advocates for stronger protections in the organization for gays and transgender people. “My team and I knew that they were considering a policy change, but we are both heartened and surprised by how quickly they moved to change the situation.”

New York Times, 

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After GOP pressure, Texas Supreme Court takes gay marriage case

Texas gay marriage

In a rare reversal, the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court accepted a gay marriage case Friday after pressure from state GOP leaders and grass-roots activists.

The state’s highest civil court had rejected the case 8-1 in September, prompting a concerted effort to revive a lawsuit that sought to abolish benefits the city of Houston provides to married same-sex couples. Opponents believe the Houston case provides an opportunity for a ruling that limits the impact of the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.

Gay marriage opponents asked the court to reconsider by filing a rarely granted motion to rehear the case that the court accepted, without comment, on Friday.homophobia

Oral arguments will be heard March 1.

The motion to rehear urged the court to reject the “ideology of the sexual revolution” embraced by federal judges who found a constitutional right to gay marriage, overturned Texas abortion regulations and struck down a Mississippi law that would have allowed individuals and businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples based on religious objections to gay marriage.

A separate friend-of-the-court brief, signed by 70 Republican politicians, conservative leaders and Christian pastors, urged the court to stand up to “federal tyranny” and warned that failure to accept the appeal would deny voters “an opportunity to hear what their duly elected high court justices have to say on such an important issue.”

Ratcheting up the pressure, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and state Attorney General Ken Paxton, all Republicans, filed a brief telling the court that the Houston lawsuit provides an opportunity to limit the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage.

Opponents of same-sex marriage, spurred by religious and social conservative leaders, also barraged the court with emails asking justices to strike down the Houston benefits or face a voter backlash in future Republican primaries.

by Chuck Lindell, statesman.com – January 20, 2017

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Under Trump, Approach to Civil Rights Law Is Likely to Change Definitively

civil rights

Washington — In the final weeks of the Obama administration, the Justice Department won the first hate-crime case involving a transgender victim and sued two cities for blocking mosques from opening.

Prosecutors settled lending-discrimination charges with two banks, then sued a third. They filed legal briefs on behalf of New York teenagers being held in solitary confinement, and accused Louisiana of forcing mentally ill patients into nursing homes.

And then, with days remaining, prosecutors announced a deal to overhaul Baltimore’s Police Department and accused Chicago of unconstitutional police abuses.gay hate

The moves capped a historic and sometimes controversial eight-year span in which the Justice Department pushed the frontiers of civil rights laws, inserting itself into private lawsuits and siding with transgender students, juvenile prisoners, the homeless, the blind, and people who videotape police officers. On issues of gay rights, policing, criminal justice, voting and more, government lawyers argued for a broad interpretation of civil rights laws, a view that they consistently said would put them on the right side of history.

Few areas of federal policy are likely to change so definitively. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to be attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, opposes not only the Justice Department’s specific policies on civil rights but its entire approach. While liberal Democrats have criticized Mr. Sessions’s views on specific issues like gay marriage and voting, the larger difference is how differently the Trump administration will view the government’s role in those areas.

by Matt Apuzzo, New York Times, January 19, 2017

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Florida settles federal birth certificate suit, agrees to recognize same-sex married parents

gay parents adopting, same sex paretners

Two years after gay marriage became legal in Florida, the state has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit over birth certificates issued to children born into same-sex marriages.

Two married lesbian couples and the advocacy group Equality Florida Institute sued the state in 2015 after health officials refused to include both parents’ names on the documents. The lawsuit came months after same-sex marriages became legal in Florida and two months after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state bans on gay marriage as unconstitutional. 

LGBT family rights in a Trump presidency

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“Now more than ever, it’s imperative that our families have every protection available under the law,” Miami family law attorney Elizabeth Schwartz said in an Equality Florida news release. “As a Florida native, I’m grateful my home state has recognized the validity of our marriages and is willing to honor legal parents on this most essential of documents.”

State Department of Health officials had contended they lacked the authority to change birth-certificate forms without lawmakers taking action, a position that led to only birth mothers — and not their spouses — being listed on the documents. But the Republican-dominated Legislature, which last year met from January until mid-March, did not approve changes to the law to recognize that same-sex marriage is legal in Florida.

The Department of Health in May asked U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that it was moot because the state had started listing both spouses on birth certificates of children born into same-sex marriages and had started a rule-making process to allow the designation of “parent” — in addition to “mother” and “father” — on the birth records.

But lawyers for the same-sex couples and Equality Florida objected, arguing that the health department’s “recent remedial measures are both substantively incomplete and procedurally lacking in finality” and that the issues are not moot.

Last week, lawyers for the plaintiffs and the state filed a document telling Hinkle they had reached a settlement in the case.

Under the settlement, the state agreed to issue corrected birth certificates free of charge to the plaintiffs and to all same-sex couples who received incorrect documents. The state also pledged to apply the statute regarding birth certificates “and any forms promulgated based on that statute to same-sex spouses in the same manner as they are applied to opposite-sex spouses.”

The state also agreed to pay $55,000 to in legal fees and costs to the plaintiffs.

By Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida – Miamiherald.com – January 11, 2017
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National Organization for Marriage Announces International Anti-LGBT Group

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Brian Brown, director of the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage and president of the anti-LGBT hate group World Congress of Families (WCF), has announced the launch of the International Organization for the Family (IOF).

IOF is the new name of the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, which is the parent organization of WCF. The name and mission of the Howard Center have been re-tooled for an international arena, though WCF, which will remain a project of the IOF, according to Brown’s announcement, has always been extremely active internationally. Its world conferences serve as a key nexusfor religious right leaders and activists and the formulation of policies that are detrimental to LGBT people and reproductive health, and they provide a platform for anti-LGBT rhetoric and conspiracy theories

The IOF, which was ironically announced on Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, has been in the works for a while.gay hate

In August of this year, the Howard Center sent out a letter to supporters signed by President Emeritus Allan Carlson, in which he stated that the Center’s board of trustees resolved to “sharpen the focus” of the organization “on international family questions” which reflect the reality “that key family policy battles now occur more frequently at the transnational level in bodies such as the U.N., the Organization of American States, and the European Union.” To that end, the board of directors of the Center resolved to change the organization’s name to IOF.  

The name of the Center’s policy journal is also changing from The Family in America: A Journal of Public Policy to The Natural Family: An International Journal of Research and Policy, but senior editing staff remains the same.

In keeping with the mission of the Howard Center and WCF to dictate the so-called “natural family” –– that marriage is only for one man and one woman –– as the only correct way to be a family, IOF’s first order of business was to release the “Cape Town Declaration” at a WCF regional conference at the Westin Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa.

The declaration purports to affirm marriage as only between a man and a woman, and “the patrimony of all mankind” to secure for children the “birthright of all men: to know the faithful love of the man and woman whose union gave them life.” The declaration goes on to assert that a “thriving culture will therefore serve marriage — and all society —by promoting purity outside it and fidelity within.” These “thriving cultures” will also discourage pornography, adultery and divorce, and will resist attempts to “redefine marriage” to include “same-sex or group bonds, or sexually open or temporary ones.”

Southern Poverty Law Center – December 19, 20165

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Same-sex parents now account for 1 in 10 adoptions in England

England Adoption

Data published today has revealed that one in 10 adoptions in England is by a same-sex couple.

The data comes from the Department for Education, which published an update on children in care and fostering.

The stats reveal that of the 4,690 children adopted in the year ending March 31, 450 were adopted by same-sex couples.adoption

200 children were adopted by same-sex couples in civil partnerships, 70 children were adopted by married same-sex couples, and a further 180 were adopted by same-sex couples who are unmarried.

The growth, coupled with a decline in overall adoption by opposite-sex parents, means that the total proportion of children adopted by same-sex couples is at 10 percent for the first time.

It represents a drastic rise from 2012, when just 160 children were adopted by same-sex couples, accounting for less than five percent of adoptions in that year.

Gender breakdowns show that adoption has become more popular for both male and female couples, with 250 children adopted by same-sex male parents, and 200 adopted by same-sex female couples.

The data points have been rounded to preserve anonymity.

Tor Docherty of LGBT adoption charity  New Family Social, said: “Although the total number of adoptions fell in England in 2016, it’s heartening to see that agencies continue to consider and successfully place children for adoption with same-sex couples.

by Nick Duffy, December 8, 2016

PinkNews.com.uk

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Arkansas Court Upholds Gay Marriage Birth Certificate Law – Blow to Same Sex Couples

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Arkansas‘ highest court on Thursday threw out a judge’s ruling that could have allowed all married same-sex couples to get the names of both spouses on their children’s birth certificates without a court order, saying it doesn’t violate equal protection “to acknowledge basic biological truths.”

The state Supreme Court also issued a rare admonishment to Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox, saying he made “inappropriate remarks” in his ruling that struck down the birth certificate law. Fox had cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage in his ruling last year that said married same-sex couples should have both names listed on their children’s birth certificates, just as heterosexual married couples do, without requiring a court order.Family law

In the state Supreme Court’s decision Thursday, the justices sided with the state attorney general’s office, saying Arkansas has a vested interest in listing biological parents on birth certificates.

“What is before this court is a narrow issue of whether the birth-certificate statutes as written deny the appellees due process,” Justice Josephine Linker Hart wrote in the court’s majority opinion. “…In the situation involving the female spouse of a biological mother, the female spouse does not have the same biological nexus to the child that the biological mother or the biological father has. It does not violate equal protection to acknowledge basic biological truths.”

Cheryl Maples, who sued on behalf of three same-sex couples, said she hasn’t decided yet whether to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The three couples who sued were allowed to amend their children’s birth certificates last year under a ruling issued by Fox.

“There’s no requirement that DNA be given or that there be a biological relationship to a child to get on a birth certificate for a father, for the non-birth parent,” she said. “All you have to do is legitimize the child and you’re entitled, if you’re heterosexual. This is wrong.”

Judd Deere, a spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, said the state is “gratified” by the court’s decision.

“If any changes are appropriate it is the job of legislators to do so, not the circuit court,” he said.

Associate Justice Paul Danielson dissented and Justice Rhonda Wood concurred in part and dissented in part.

by Jill Bleed, ABCNews.com, December 8, 2016

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Surrogacy laws for single parents to change after court ruling

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Surrogacy laws which prevent single people from claiming parental rights are set to change following a ruling by the Family Division of the High Court.

 

The court ruled earlier this month that a single man who fathered a child via a surrogate mother had his right to raise the child discriminated against.

The man claimed the current law meant an application for a “parental order” could only be made by two people.

The government said it was now considering updating the legislation.international second parent adoption, gay parent adoption, Italy, lgbt Italy, glut Italy, gay families, international gay rights

American mother

The child was born in August 2014 in Minnesota in the US, to an American surrogate mother using the father’s sperm and a third party donor’s egg.

The father then returned to the UK, bringing the child – ,known in court as Z – with him. But legally he did not have parental responsibility for the child – as under British law the surrogate mother is regarded as his mother, whatever the wishes of either party.

The current laws – the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 – allow married couples, civil partners and couples in an “enduring family relationship” to apply for parental orders after a surrogacy arrangement.

This transfers legal parenthood from the surrogate mother to the commissioning parents. But the legislation does not currently allow parental orders to be awarded to single people.

In this case, the only option available to the would-be father was to apply to adopt the child.

Sir James Munby, the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, has agreed with the father, who said the legislation was incompatible with human rights laws.

The president of the Family Division of the High Court made a “declaration of incompatibility” in a ruling, after considering the case at a hearing in London.

He also said the child had been made a ward of court at an earlier stage of litigation and been placed in his father’s care.

Adoption ‘solution’

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s legal team had accepted that provisions of the Act were incompatible with human rights covering respect for family life and discrimination.

Barrister Samantha Broadfoot, representing Mr Hunt, told the judge: “It is accepted that there is a difference in treatment between a single person entering into a lawful surrogacy arrangement and a couple entering the same arrangement.”

She did add that adoption was an “available solution”.

BBC.com/news/UK

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Verizon’s Bar on Paid Leave for Surrogate Births Prompts Bias Suit

Verizon

A New Jersey woman who had twins by a gestational surrogate has filed a discrimination suit against Verizon Communications because she was not allowed to take time off under the company’s paid maternity leave policy.

Marybeth Walz of Red Bank said Verizon grants six to eight weeks of paid leave to women employees who become mothers through birth or adoption. Walz opted to use a surrogate because her uterus had been removed after she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2001. But the company refused to grant her paid leave, and instead required her to use vacation and sick days when the twins were born prematurely in November 2013, the suit said. As such, she suffers from a pregnancy-related disability because she is unable to become pregnant, her suit claims.gestational carrier

Granting paid leave to a woman who becomes a mother through surrogacy allows her to bond with her child, said Gaia Bernstein, a professor at Seton Hall University School of Law in Newark whose areas of study include reproductive technology and the law.

“There are more and more surrogate cases. I think the mothers [who use a surrogate] should get the same benefits as a mother who is adopting or an actual mother because they are the one taking care of the baby. The way they got the baby is irrelevant,” said Bernstein.

The suit, Walz v. Verizon Business Network Services, accuses Verizon of sex, pregnancy and disability discrimination as well as retaliation and violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act. It was filed in federal court in Boston in September 2015, but Verizon moved to transfer the case to the District of New Jersey.

One of the boys, Thad, suffered a pulmonary hemorrhage and died one day after birth. The other, Jude, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and died six months later. While she was coping with the death of Thad, the serious illness of Jude and her own grief-related mental disability, she received a new job assignment that she contended was a demotion. And shortly after Jude’s death, she was terminated from her job.

Walz’s eggs were fertilized with an anonymous donor’s sperm and transferred into the uterus of her sister-in-law in May 2013. Walz, her sister-in-law and her brother obtained a consent order from a North Carolina court, calling for Walz’s name to be listed as the mother on the twins’ birth certificates, with no name listed for the father. The order also severed the rights and responsibilities of Walz’s brother and sister-and-law to the twins.

Walz said a Verizon human resources representative suggested she adopt the twins, to which she replied that she saw no need to adopt her own children, and was instead securing her rights through a consent order The human resources representative said “shame on you for doing it that way,” and said the company would pay $10,000 in expenses if she adopted the children.

Verizon’s handling of the case caused Walz extreme emotional distress and anxiety, she claims.

Lawyers for Basking Ridge-based Verizon, from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, have moved to transfer the venue to New Jersey, and the case has been stayed pending a ruling on venue. The company maintains that the plaintiff, defendant and most of the witnesses are located in New Jersey and the only reason for the case to be in Massachusetts is that the plaintiff’s lawyer is located there.

A Morgan Lewis attorney in Princeton, Michelle Silverman, did not respond to a request for comment.

Charles Toutant, New Jersey Law Journal

November 14, 2016

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