LGBT Parenting Roundup

While you’re still yawning after staying up too late to watch the Oscars, here’s an extra-large, fully caffeinated dose of LGBT parenting news to wake you up:

Court Cases

  • Heard this one before? Lesbian moms split up. Bio mom tries to keep nonbio mom from child. Custody battle ensues. Such cases are all too frequent—I may simply refer to them in the future as BNBCB cases, just to save myself some typing. The Arkansas Supreme Court recently ruled on one, upholding a trial court ruling giving visitation rights to the nonbiological mother. Laywer Nancy Polikoff notes, however, that the ruling still does not give the nonbio mom full parental recognition and rights.
  • BNBCB cases aren’t limited to the U.S. A family court judge in Queensland, Australia, ruled that a nonbio mom had the same parental rights and responsibilities as her ex, the bio mom, and that the bio mom could not move out of state with the child.
  • In a case with a twist on the classic BNBCB formula, an appeal court in Florida has yet to rule on a case in which the non-carrying mom donated the egg. The chief judge of the appeal court offered the confidence-inspiring comment, “I’ve never quite come across anything exactly like this before.” (It’s not really so groundbreaking—it’s the same method my own spouse and I used, though we were in New Jersey at the time.) Yes, although Florida now allows lesbians and gay men to adopt children, there’s still a long way to go before same-sex parents are treated fairly under the law.
  • A man who had attacked two lesbian moms in front of their son at the son’s school was found guilty by a court in Oshawa, Canada.

Politics

  • India is set to pass a law allowing only opposite-sex couples to have children by surrogate.
  • A Facebook campaign helped spur the Belgian government to action after it refused to allow two gay dads to bring their son, born in Ukraine to a surrogate, into the country. The boy has lived in an orphanage for over a year. Now, it looks like the boy will receive the papers needed to bring him to Belgium next week.
  • A Utah Senate committee tabled a bill that would have allowed second-parent adoptions in the state.
  • Massachusetts legalized marriage equality in 2004. They’ve recognized same-sex parents for almost two decades. But it’s taken them till now to change birth certificates in the state to read “mother/parent” and “father/parent” instead of just “mother” and “father.” Don’t blame the state too much, though—they’re standardizing what has been a mishmash of local forms.

Personal Stories

  • Anthony Carlino, a counsellor at the New South Wales Gender Centre in Australia, writes of “The Gift of Transition” and advises transgender parents: “To live one’s truth and move towards who we really are. . . . Never forget your being transgendered is a gift to your child.”
  • Andrea Askowitz, author of the funny and curmudgeonly My Miserable Lonely Lesbian Pregnancy (about which more here), writes for the New York Times’ “Modern Love” column about finding the perfect woman to impregnate.

Research

  • Lesbian moms experiencing violence from their partners are often reluctant to seek help for fear of losing custody of their children, according to a new study by two University of Illinois professors. No surprise, perhaps, but researcher Jennifer Hardesty, U of I associate professor of family studies, notes, “A lesbian mom’s abuse situation is unique in that she fears losing her kids to the biological father or the state instead of the abuser.” The study, which claims to be “the first to examine help-seeking for intimate partner violence among lesbian or bisexual mothers,” appears in the January 2011 issue of Violence Against Women.

Entertainment

  • Singer Rufus Wainwright is a father. His Web site announced, “Darling daughter Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen was born on February 2, 2011 in Los Angeles, California to proud parents Lorca Cohen, Rufus Wainwright and Deputy Dad Jorn Weisbrodt.” Cohen is daughter of the musician Leonard Cohen.

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