Utah Supreme Court Will Now Allow Surrogacy for Same-Sex Couples

Utah Supreme Court

The Utah Supreme Court struck down a law stopping same-sex couples from having children through surrogacy.

Chief Justice Matthew Durrant declared in a Utah Supreme Court ruling that “same-sex couples must be afforded all of the benefits the State has linked to marriage and freely grants to opposite sex-couples,” reports Fox 13 Salt Lake City.Utah Supreme Court

The law was challenged by a gay couple who entered into a gestational contract with a straight couple, but ran into legal issues thanks to strict language in Utah’s laws governing surrogacy. A lower court judge noted Utah statute only allows surrogacy when an “intended mother is unable to bear a child or is unable to do so without unreasonable risk to her physical or mental health or to the unborn child.”

Lower courts ruled that with two gay men, there was no intended mother.

The Utah Attorney General’s office actually sided with the couple in the case, arguing the law should be gender neutral in its application, but it took going to the high court to deal with the explicit “mother” language appearing in the law as written.

Durrant wrote it was in the interest of the state to allow all same-sex couples the same access to surrogacy services.

Advocate.com by Jacob Ogles, August 2, 2019

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Civil rights groups sue over Trump foster care policies

Civil rights groups are filing a lawsuit against the Trump foster care policies and the state of South Carolina, alleging the governments are making it easier for taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against same-sex and non-evangelical couples.

Thursday’s lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Lambda Legal was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina on behalf of a married lesbian couple. Eden Rogers and Brandy Welch were turned away by Miracle Hill Ministries, South Carolina’s largest state-contracted, federally-funded foster care agency.  The suit targets Trump foster care policies.Trump foster care policies

The lawsuit comes after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) earlier this year granted a waiver to a faith-based adoption agency in South Carolina that allows it to continue turning away same-sex and non-Christian couples while receiving federal money.

The ACLU and Lambda Legal said the federal waiver means the administration is condoning discrimination, and the lawsuit said the use of religious eligibility criteria is unconstitutional.

“This practice harms vulnerable children by denying them access to the loving families they desperately need and limits opportunities for would-be foster parents to participate in the public child welfare system on the basis of religion and sexual orientation,” the lawsuit said.

According to the groups, in order to foster through Miracle Hill, a family must agree with Miracle Hill’s “doctrinal statement,” including “that God’s design for marriage is the legal joining of one man and one woman in a life-long covenant relationship.”

Miracle Hill has said they refer couples who do not meet their criteria to other agencies, but the lawsuit noted those other couples are offered only a limited set of options, and are excluded from the state’s largest agency with potentially the most support to offer adoptive couples.

“Trump’s HHS and South Carolina should not be permitting foster care agencies that receive taxpayer money to care for wards of the state to disqualify potential foster parents because they don’t conform to a religious litmus test,” said Currey Cook, counsel at Lambda Legal. “Agencies have no right to exclude families because of their faith or sexual orientation.”

Recent reports suggest the administration is planning to release a new rule as early as this summer that would make it easier for federally-funded foster care facilities to deny services to same-sex couples.

TheHill.com, May 30, 2019, by Matthew Weixal

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Same-Sex Couples Entitled to Equal Visa Rights, Hong Kong Court Says

hong kong gay visa

Hong Kong’s top court ruled on Wednesday that committed same-sex couples living in the city had the same rights to spousal visas as married heterosexual couples, a decision that advocates said could have ripple effects in advancing gay rights.

The case, which was brought in 2014 by a British woman who wanted to join her partner, galvanized gay rights activists who said that Hong Kong had not been living up to its image as “Asia’s world city” by failing, until now, to recognize such rights. Banks and law firms had pushed for such recognition to lure and keep top talent in the financial and business center.hong kong gay visa

“This judgment is a milestone for Hong Kong and a watershed moment” for gay rights across Asia, Jan Wetzel, senior legal adviser at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

The woman at the center of the case, known in court papers only as QT, came to Hong Kong as a visitor in 2011, several months after entering a same-sex civil partnership in Britain with SS, a woman of South African and British nationality who had taken a job in Hong Kong. QT’s application for a dependent visa was refused on the basis that marriage is defined in Hong Kong as the union of one man and one woman.

Without such a visa, a foreign partner would be able to stay in Hong Kong only on a short-term tourist visa and would not be able to work or receive public services.

QT took the government to court, claiming discrimination based on sexual orientation. She lost in 2016 in the Court of First Instance, which said it would be unlawful for the government to accept same-sex partnerships “through the back door.” Last fall, the Court of Appeal ruled unanimously in her favor on the grounds that the visa policy was indirectly discriminatory. That decision was upheld in Wednesday’s unanimous ruling by the Court of Final Appeal.

In a statement, QT said the ruling “affirms what millions of us in this wonderful and vibrant city know to be true, that discrimination based on sexual orientation, like any other form of discrimination, is offensive and demeaning.”

by Jennifer Jett and Austin Ramzy, New York Times, July 4, 2018

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In landmark ruling, Italy recognizes gay couple as dads to surrogate babies

Italy surrogacy

For the first time in Italy, two gay partners have been legally recognized as fathers of two surrogate children.

The children were born to a surrogate mother in the United States using artificial insemination, but both of the men will officially be named as its father – not just the parent who is biologically related.

Judges at Trento’s Court of Appeal made the historic ruling in line with the birth certificate issued in the US, which stated the dual paternity, according to the Article 29 website.international surrogacy

The website, which takes its name from the article in the Italian Constitution regarding family life, published the ruling on Tuesday, though the ruling was dated February 23rd.

In their decision, judges noted that the foreign birth certificate was valid because in Italy parental relationships are not determined solely by biological relationships.

“On the contrary,” they said, “One must consider the importance of parental responsibility, which is manifested in the conscious decision to have and care for the child.” 

Article 29 said the decision had “great significance”, as it is the first time an Italian court has ruled that a child has two fathers.

Surrogacy in Italy

Italian law prevents couples from using a surrogate mother, and in theory, anyone caught entering into a surrogacy arrangement faces up to two years in prison and a fine of up to a million euros.

Two years ago, a child was taken from its parents who had paid a surrogate mother in Ukraine 25,000 euros. The couple were charged with fraud and the child put up for adoption.

TheLocal.it, February 28, 2017

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