JP Morgan is expanding fertility benefits to help LGBTQ employees have families

employee benefits

Starting next month, the bank’s employees can tap expanded benefits for fertility treatments and surrogacy services, according to an internal memo. The changes are seen as primarily helping LGBTQ employees who couldn’t access reproductive benefits that were tailored to straight couples.

JP Morgan Chase is expanding benefits to help employees pay for fertility treatments and surrogacy services, according to an internal memo obtained by CNBC.benefits employees

Employees in the U.S. without a medical diagnosis of infertility can now have up to $30,000 of treatments including in vitro fertilization covered, according to the letter, which was sent to workers earlier this week. The New York-based bank also increased reimbursement for costs related to surrogacy, which involves compensating a woman to carry a child to term, to $30,000 from $10,000.

Both moves are seen within J.P. Morgan as primarily helping LGBTQ employees, because before the change, which starts July 1, same-sex couples who weren’t medically diagnosed as infertile had to pay for services out of pocket. (Workers who are deemed infertile are already covered by the bank’s medical plan). The company made the change after an investment bank employee queried an internal LGBTQ council, said spokesman Joe Evangelisti.

“We recognize that there are many pathways to building a family and we’re making it easier to follow them,” the bank said in a letter signed by human resources chief Robin Leopold and general counsel Stacey Friedman.

The move is an important one because Wall Street firms tend to follow each other in expanding benefits amid a constant war for talent. While Morgan Stanley reportedly made it easier for workers in same-sex relationships to tap reproductive benefits starting this year, J.P. Morgan said it believes most of the biggest U.S. financial institutions are lagging in this category.

CNBC.com, June 26, 2019 by Hugh Son

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New York Almost Joined The 21st Century On Gestational Surrogacy, No Thanks To Gloria Steinem

new york surrogacy

New York continues to be one of the few surprising gestational surrogacy holdouts, with an outdated law based on outdated notions and outdated technology.

The New York bill in support of regulated compensated gestational surrogacy — the Child-Parent Security Act (CPSA) — had the vocal support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, passed the State Senate, and likely had the votes in the House. But it never made it to the floor before the legislative session ended last week. What the heck happened?!new york surrogacy

Some Background.

New York is one of the few states in the country that legally prevents a woman from carrying a hopeful parent’s or couple’s embryo to birth, and receiving compensation for her nine months of intense effort and … labor. Other jurisdictions that had previously banned the practice have since changed course in the last few years — including New Jersey, Washington State, and D.C. In the meantime, New York continues to be one of the few surprising holdouts, with an outdated law based on outdated notions and outdated technology.

As previously discussed in my column, while gestational surrogacy is a big part of the New York bill, the CPSA includes other key protections for parents hoping to conceive using assisted reproductive technology. For example, it fixes the state’s legal loophole that allows sperm donors who donated to a single parent to seek legal rights to the resulting child! And vice-versa, it closes the loophole that currently allows single parents to seek child support from a donor. So these were improvements all around.

 

New York’s ban stems from the disastrous Baby M case in the 1980s. That case occurred in next door New Jersey, where a woman agreed to be inseminated and carry the resulting child for another couple. This type of arrangement is generally referred to as “traditional,” or “genetic surrogacy.” In the Baby M Case, the genetic surrogate changed her mind about giving up the baby, and fled the state with child. Both New Jersey and New York quickly over-corrected and outlawed all compensated surrogacy. Since then, genetic surrogacy has largely been abandoned across the U.S., while gestational surrogacy — where the surrogate is not genetically related to the child she carries — has flourished. Note that the CPSA only aims to legalize gestational surrogacy, not genetic surrogacy, the type found in the Baby M Case. Last year, New Jersey (ground zero for Baby M) recognized that the times and medical practices have changed, and reversed its position by passing supportive gestational surrogacy legislation.

So Close! 

The momentum for the bill was building, and supporters believed that the CPSA had a good shot at becoming law this year. So, what pulled the brakes? I spoke with Denise Seidelman, a prominent New York adoption and surrogacy attorney, and part of a coalition in support of the CPSA. Seidelman shared her experience advocating for the bill. “It was one the most profoundly inspiring, and also intensely disappointing experiences. Emotions were running high on both sides of the issue.”

Seidelman explained her view on some of the factors that led to this not being the CPSA’s year. For one, she noted that the author of the original New York surrogacy ban (from 30 years ago), Helene Weinstein, is still a current member of the Assembly, and she is outspoken in her position, perhaps colored by her experiences of a generation ago.

Seidelman felt another factor in this year’s failure was the timing of a letter by Gloria Steinem, famed author and feminist, against the CPSA. Steinem’s letter was disappointing, and really a bit shocking for those familiar with how surrogacy works. Her letter referred to a 1998 NY Task Force report that came out against surrogacy, with no mention of a more recent and more relevant 2017 NY Task Force report in support of gestational surrogacy, with measured regulation. Unfortunately, Steinem spoke not from firsthand knowledge of the recent experiences of women who choose to be gestational carriers for others, but from a perspective that has long since gone by the wayside.

The letter described how the bill would risk the well-being of the marginalized women in the state — those in conditions of poverty. However, as pointed out in the rebuttal letter written by RESOLVE, the national infertility association, of the women who raise their hands to be surrogates, only about 5 percent are determined to be medically qualified, and are able to move forward. And one of the requirements is that they are financially stable. Additionally, the 2017 Task Force report found that the women who are acting as surrogates are not the marginalized of society, but those not reliant on compensation that may be received from acting as a gestational surrogate. Steinem’s letter is an imagination of the Handmaid’s Tale, but ignores the current reality of what surrogacy is, and how it works.

AboveTheLaw.com, June 26, 2019 by Ellen Trachman

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New Va law makes surrogacy easier for singles, same-sex couples

new Va. surrogacy

New Va law makes surrogacy easier for singles, same-sex couples.

New Va law makes surrogacy easier for singles, same-sex couples.  Changes to rules about surrogacy in Virginia take effect Monday, as part of a raft of new laws effective July 1.new Va. surrogacy

The changes allow single people or same-sex couples to enter into surrogacy agreements in Virginia. The law previously limited surrogacy agreements to those where the child would end up with a married man and woman as parents.

The change was sparked by a four-year fight by Jay Timmons, a former chief of staff for Gov. George Allen, and his husband, Rick Olson, to get full legal custody of their son, Jacob. A Wisconsin judge, who has since resigned, attempted to take away their parental rights.

The couple had gone through the surrogacy process in Wisconsin due to what appeared to be clearer laws guaranteeing their rights.

“There was literally not one night where we didn’t feel like we would wake up and have somebody knocking on our door to tell us that they were taking our child away,” Olson said.

He called the law “a monumental milestone in a four-year horrific journey.”

Jacob turns 4 this summer. He has two older sisters.

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Gestational Surrogacy Dead for Now in NYS

Hoylman

State assemblymembers hesitate amid women’s rights concerns about gestational surrogacy in NY 

Efforts to pass gestational surrogacy in the NY State Legislature have withered in the lower chamber and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie confirmed on June 20 that the bill is dead for now, citing concerns about women’s rights and fears of commercialization.surrogate lawyers, surrogate lawyer, surrogate attorney, legal surrogate, surrogate legal

Heastie, however, indicated that lawmakers and advocates would continue crafting the legislation in the coming months in such a way that would attempt to quell lingering reservations about the issue.

The movement to pass gestational surrogacy, which involves a surrogate carrying a baby who has no biological relation to her, became a key issue in the LGBTQ community’s efforts in Albany during the final months of the session because the current ban on compensated surrogacy in New York disproportionately affects same-sex couples. The measure passed the State Senate, but ran into roadblocks in the lower house, even as Governor Andrew Cuomo aggressively campaigned for the issue and enlisted the help of Bravo TV show host Andy Cohen, who had a baby son through surrogacy.

In the lower chamber, though, out lesbian Democratic Assemblymember Deborah Glick of Manhattan infuriated some in the LGBTQ community and drew cries of betrayal when she expressed hesitation on the measure after previously vowing support for it. She told The New York Times earlier this month that gestation surrogacy is “pregnancy for a fee, and I find that commodification of women troubling.” She also suggested that gestational surrogacy isn’t necessarily an issue for the wider LGBTQ community because many folks are unable to afford the tens of thousands of dollars to have kids that way.

But Democratic Assemblymember Amy Paulin of Westchester County, who led the bill in the lower house, told Gay City News with roughly one week left to go in the session that she was working to garner support for the bill. That effort never came to fruition.

“While there are strong feelings about surrogacy on all sides, I want to make it clear that no single member is in a position to stop this or any bill,” Heastie said on June 20 in a clear effort to spare Glick from being singled out. “Many members, including a large majority of women in our conference, have raised important concerns that must be properly addressed before we can move forward.”

He continued, “We must ensure that the health and welfare of women who enter into these arrangements are protected, and that reproductive surrogacy does not become commercialized. This requires careful thought. While our work for this session is nearly complete, I look forward to continuing this conversation in the coming months with our members and interested parties to develop a solution that works for everyone.”

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Deborah Glick Key Hurdle on Gestational Surrogacy

Glick shit

Stonewall Democrats rip lesbian lawmaker Deborah Glick for betraying a pledge

Out lesbian Assembly member Deborah Glick of Manhattan is said to be pushing back against an 11th-hour push to legalize gestational surrogacy in New York, angering the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City and others in the community just months after she told that club she supported the measure.Deborah Glick

Glick, who did not return multiple phone calls for this story, landed the endorsement of Stonewall in her re-election bid last year after telling the club in a questionnaire that she supported legalizing gestational surrogacy.

But she remained tight-lipped when reached by Gay City News on June 10 about her position on the bill, saying that she would need to call back, though she never did. She did not respond to multiple requests for comment at the time, but two days later told The New York Times — which reaches a broader audience — that gestational surrogacy amounts to “pregnancy for a fee, and I find that commodification of women troubling.”

The bill, which has been increasingly shrouded in controversy over women’s rights issues, now faces gloomy prospects in the lower chamber. Stonewall’s president, Rod Townsend, expressed disappointment over Glick’s apparent about-face and the bill’s loss of momentum after he expected it to pass this year.

“It’s been on our endorsement surveys for years and going back to 2014, no one seeking our endorsement has supported keeping the ban on the books,” Townsend told Gay City News. “To hear that Assemblymember Deborah Glick, a champion and member of our community, has reversed her stated support on the issue is a shock to our members.”

He continued, “Folks want to start their families without having to leave the state and jump through legal hurdles. We know and admire the assemblymember, and we feel betrayed.”

The bill cleared the State Senate under the leadership of out gay State Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan, who championed the measure in the upper chamber and issued emotional pleas for the legislation by sharing stories and photos of his own experience having two daughters through gestational surrogacy.

The issue heated up significantly in the final weeks of the legislative session, with Governor Andrew Cuomo intensively campaigning for it with multiple events in both New York City and Albany. The bill’s lead sponsor in the Assembly, Amy Paulin of Westchester, told Gay City News on June 10 that she and her colleagues were seeking to whip enough votes while simultaneously sweetening the pot with extra healthcare and legal protections for the women who would carry the babies.

Some have expressed concern that gestational surrogacy creates a class divide in which wealthier couples take advantage of lower-income women who serve as surrogates. Glick also told The Times that she is not certain that gestational surrogacy is an issue for the broader LGBTQ community, saying, “This is clearly a problem for the well-heeled,” a reference to the tens of thousands of dollars in cost associated with the process.

GayCityNews.com, by Matt Tracy

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Both Parents Are American. The U.S. State Department Says Their Baby Isn’t.

state department

James Derek Mize is an American citizen, born and raised in the United States. His husband, who was born in Britain to an American mother, is a United States citizen, too.  Now the State Department is dictating the citizenship of their child.

But the couple’s infant daughter isn’t, according to the State Department.

She was born abroad to a surrogate, using a donor egg and sperm from her British-born father. Those distinct circumstances mean that, under a decades-old policy, she did not qualify for citizenship at birth, even though both her parents are American.

“It’s shocking,” said Mr. Mize, 38, a former lawyer who lives in Atlanta with his husband, Jonathan Gregg, a management consultant. The couple received a letter denying their daughter’s citizenship last month.

“We’re both Americans; we’re married,” Mr. Mize said. “We just found it really hard to believe that we could have a child that wouldn’t be able to be in our country.”

Their case illustrates the latest complication facing some families who use assisted reproductive technology, like surrogacy and in vitro fertilization, to have children. For years the techniques have set off provocative legal and ethical debates about what defines parenthood. Immigration and citizenship are the latest frontier in those debates.

At issue is a State Department policy, based on immigration law, that requires a child born abroad to have a biological connection to an American parent in order to receive citizenship at birth. That is generally not a problem when couples have babies the traditional way, but can prove tricky when only one spouse is the genetic parent.

The policy has come under intense scrutiny in recent months amid lawsuits arguing that the State Department discriminates against same-sex couples and their children by failing to recognize their marriages. Under the policy, the department classifies certain children born through assisted reproductive technology as “out of wedlock,” which triggers a higher bar for citizenship, even if the parents are legally married.

In one instance, a married Israeli-American gay couple had twin sons in Canada using sperm from each of the fathers. The biological son of the American received citizenship, but his brother, the biological son of the Israeli, did not. In February, a federal judge sided with the couple, calling the State Department’s interpretation of the immigration law “strained.” The department is appealing.

The government is also fighting a similar suit from a lesbian couple in London, who did not use a surrogate. One is American and one is Italian. They took turns conceiving and carrying their two children. Only the child born to the American mother was granted citizenship. Last week, a federal judge allowed the case to proceed, calling the family’s predicament “terrible” and “outrageous.”

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More Than 100 Rabbis and Cantors Urge NY State to Legalize Surrogacy

rabbis NY surrogacy

The 118 Rabbis and other clergy members urged the passage of the NY Child-Parent Security Act, surrogacy.

The 118 Rabbis and other clergy members urged the passage of the NY Child-Parent Security Act  (surrogacy) in a letter Tuesday to the state’s House speaker, Carl Heastie, and Senate majority leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, both Democrats. Among the signatories are rabbis representing the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox movements.rabbis NY surrogacy

The bill, which has the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, would legalize paid gestational surrogacy, in which a woman is compensated to carry a child not conceived using her eggs. Proponents say it allows those facing infertility and LGBTQ couples to have children, while detractors say the practice is immoral. The measure also would ease the process through which parents who enlist a third party to conceive establish a legal relationship with the child.

The letter — organized by the Protecting Modern Families Coalition, an alliance of organizations in support of the legislation — references Jewish tradition in arguing for the bill’s passage.

“From birth to Bar/Bat Mitzvah, marriage, and burial, at the core of most of the major Jewish life cycle events is family,” it reads. “As rabbis, we know the visceral, central importance for so many of our congregants of building a family.”

Among the signatories are Rabbis Sharon Kleinbaum of the LGBTQ synagogue Congregation Beit Simchat Torah; Rick Jacobs, who heads the Reform movement; Dov Linzer, president of the liberal Orthodox Yeshivat Chovevei Torah rabbinical school; and Rabbi Avram Mlotek, an Orthodox rabbi who announced last month that he will perform same-sex weddings. The UJA-Federation of New York and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Reform movement’s rabbinical arm, also joined the letter.

The Jerusalem Post – JPost.com, BY JOSEFIN DOLSTEN/JTA, May 15, 2019

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Legal Basics for LGBTQ Parents

lgbtq parenting

It’s never been easier for LGBTQ people to become parents.

We can now adopt and serve as foster parents in every state in the country. Thanks to advancements in assisted reproductive technology, otherwise known as ART, and innovative co-parenting and known-donor arrangements, we’re also having biological children in greater numbers. llgbtq parentingDespite this progress, a complex network of state laws, regulations and restrictions affect many of our most common paths to parenthood, meaning would-be LGBTQ. parents can face a far more complicated legal landscape than our straight counterparts. 

Legal concerns for LGBTQ people are generally impacted by three factors: the state you live in, your preferred path to parenthood and your relationship status. To gain a better understanding of each, I interviewed four experts at some of the country’s top LGBTQ legal and policy organizations.

THE GIST

  • Know the laws in your state; your legal outlook can vary widely depending on where you live. 
  • Your preferred path to parenthood (donor arrangements, adoption or fostering) will present you with a specific set of legal considerations. 
  • Other legal concerns arise depending on your relationship status: whether you’re single, in an unmarried relationship or married.
  • If you are not biologically related to your child, legal experts recommend taking steps to protect your legal status as a parent, even if you’re married to your child’s biological parent. 
  • Parenthood for LGBTQ people doesn’t always come cheap — but there are some ways to offset the costs. 
  • If you encounter obstacles, don’t give up. An experienced family lawyer is often familiar with legal workarounds, even in states with unfavorable laws for the LGBTQ community.

NYTParenting.com by David Dodge, May 7, 2019

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Italy won’t let gay dads register as co-parents to babies

Italy gay dads

Italy’s highest court of appeal ruled on Wednesday (May 8) that a gay dads cannot register as co-parents to their two children.

The gay dads from the northern Italy city of Trento Italy, who have not been identified, had their children in Canada with the help of an egg donor and a surrogate.Italy surrogacy

Both men are named as fathers on the children’s birth certificates but the top court ruled that only the biological father will be registered as a legal parent, while his partner will have to apply to adopt.

Surrogacy is illegal in Italy in all circumstances, including for heterosexual couples, and one politician even described it as a “sex crime.” It can be punished with up to two years in prison, but a legal grey area surrounds the status of couples who have children through surrogacy abroad—while gay dads in Italy  won’t be prosecuted, the legal recognition of their children is often fraught with legal challenges.

Alexander Schuster, a lawyer who helped to represent the family, expressed disappointment with the overall ruling and its understanding of surrogacy. However, he noted a silver lining in the way the ruling was more concerned with the matter of surrogacy than the parents’ sexual orientation.

“This is certainly positive, because it demonstrates that the legal problem did not depend on the fact that a gay couple was involved,” he told Italian newspaper La Repubblica on May 8.

According to The Local, Schuster also said that the family had a “high probability of success” if they took their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

The ruling may be in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, specifically Article 8 (which grants the right to privacy and family life) and Article 14 (which establishes the prohibition against discrimination).

In 2018 a same-sex Polish couple in the same situation used these articles when taking their case to the European Court of Human Rights and won the right register both parents legally.

pinknews.com by Lily Wakefield, May 9, 2019

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Cambodia’s surrogate mothers go free after agreeing to raise Chinese children but some see it as a mixed blessing

cambodia

  • Cambodia banned commercial surrogacy in 2016, and police in June raided two flats where Sophea and 31 other surrogate mothers were being cared for in Phnom Penh
  • They were charged the following month with violating human-trafficking laws, but authorities released them on bail last week, under the condition they raise the children themselves
Cambodia

Sophea was eight months pregnant when Cambodian police told her she would have to keep the baby that was never meant to be hers – and forfeit the US$10,000 she was promised for acting as a surrogate for a Chinese couple.

Cambodia banned commercial surrogacy in 2016, and police in June raided two flats where Sophea and 31 other surrogate mothers were being cared for in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.

They were charged the following month with violating human-trafficking laws, but authorities released them on bail last week, under the condition they raise the children themselves.

Campaigners say Cambodia’s surrogacy crackdown is unlikely to end the trade as poverty means many women will continue to risk arrest for the chance to earn life-changing sums of money.

For some of the newly freed women, keeping their baby is a burden as they struggle to get by. For others, it is a relief.

Despite the financial loss, 24-year-old Sophea said she was happy the authorities intervened, and that her family had welcomed her baby boy.

South China Morning Post, December 11, 2018

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Source: Time for Families