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04/19/2007


Anti-Gay Parenting Quack to Take Center Stage as Trial Over Michigan Ban on Gay Marriage, Adoption Begins

Back in September 2012 Towleroad posted about April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, a Detroit couple suing the state of Michigan over its ban on gay adoption, who expanded their lawsuit to take on the state's marriage amendment. In March 2013 we reported that Federal Judge Bernard Friedman stayed his decision in the matter until after the Supreme Court ruling on DOMA. And last July, Friedman ruled that the couple could proceed with their challenge.

LmcThat challenge goes before a U.S. District Court in Detroit this morning:

If Friedman overturns the ban on gay marriage and same-sex adoption, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who also is named as a defendant in the federal lawsuit, is expected to immediately appeal the decision to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, where a similar Ohio case is under appeal.

In September, Schuette filed a brief in the case, stating that “one of the paramount purposes of marriage in Michigan — and at least 37 other states that define marriage as a union between a man and a woman — is, and has always been, to regulate sexual relationships between men and women so that the unique procreative capacity of such relationships benefits rather than harms society.”

One element in this trial that will be different from trial's we've seen in the past is the parenting aspect, and defendants of Michigan's ban have an arsenal of biased experts and flawed studies they plan to use, including discredited anti-gay UT researcher Mark Regnerus.

RegnerusIn June, Regnerus published what LGBT groups called, in a mass statement, a "flawed, misleading, and scientifically unsound paper that seeks to disparage lesbian and gay parents". The study on its face appeared to overturn three decades of research into families with same-sex parents and has been cited again and again by hateful right-wing groups despite the fact that the claims contained in it have been thoroughly debunked.

The NYT notes that "the last time these issues were debated in a federal court, in California nearly four years ago, social science opponents of same-sex marriage underwent withering challenges in pretrial depositions and did not even appear in court."

This time, it's different:

In meetings hosted by the Heritage Foundation in Washington in late 2010, opponents of same-sex marriage discussed the urgent need to generate new studies on family structures and children, according to recent pretrial depositions of two witnesses in the Michigan trial and other participants. One result was the marshaling of $785,000 for a large-scale study by Mark Regnerus, a meeting participant and a sociologist at the University of Texas who will testify in Michigan.

...

This time, four social science researchers, all of whom attended at least one of the Heritage Foundation meetings and went on to publish new reports, are scheduled to testify in favor of Michigan’s ban.

The most prominent is Dr. Regnerus. His study, published in 2012, was condemned by leading social scientists as misleading and irrelevant, but some conservatives call it the best of its kind and continue to cite it in speeches and court cases.

Let's hope DeBoer and Rowse's lawyers are ready and waiting.


Russia Expands Adoption Ban to Include All Unmarried Couples in Countries with Gay Marriage

In a decree signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev today, the Russian government announced it would be expanding its existing ban on the adoption of Russian children to now include unmarried citizens in any country where same-sex marriage is legal. Back in July, the Russian Duma (with the help of NOM’s Brian Brown) passed a law banning the adoption of Russian children by foreign same-sex couples.

The Moscow Times has more on the policy change:Yelena

Lawmakers including State Duma Deputy Yelena Mizulina [pictured], who supported the "gay propaganda" law and is head of the Duma's Committee for Family, Women and Children, earlier called for July's law to be expanded, arguing that children taken in by heterosexual parents could later be transferred to gay parents.

The changes to the adoption law also decrease the official time period for considering applications made by prospective parents from 15 to 10 days and eliminate the need for paperwork confirming that the sanitary conditions of the child's new home are up to standard.

Well at least there’s that…

 


Denial of ‘Second Parent’ Adoption Puts Same-Sex Couples Parental Rights in Jeopardy

BY RICHARD VAUGHN and ARI EZRA WALDMAN

Earlier this month, in a ruling that rocked the worlds of same-sex couples and attorneys alike, a Brooklyn court denied the non-biological mother of a child born to a married lesbian couple the right to legally adopt her child.

VaughnThis seemingly arcane quadrant of family law matters because this process of adoption has, traditionally, been the only legal tool protecting gay families when they travel to marriage discrimination states. A biological parent has parental rights, obviously. But her non-married cohabitant, which is how marriage discrimination states look at same-sex spouses, is not considered a parent. She is considered a stranger even though she helps feed, raise, and care for the child.

But in a world of marriage equality, this form of adoption seems unnecessary. Brooklyn Surrogate’s Court Judge Margarita López Torres reasoned that New York recognizes the couple’s marriage and the names of both mothers appear on the child’s birth certificate. Thus, the judge wrote in her decision, the non-biological mother is already the legal parent of her child.

The “purpose and effect" of adoption is “…to create a new legal relationship where one did not previously exist. Adoption is not utilized for, nor…is it available to reaffirm, an already existing parent/child relationship.”

That makes sense. But, as we discuss below, the decision represents ideals over reality and endangers families run by same-sex couples.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Denial of ‘Second Parent’ Adoption Puts Same-Sex Couples Parental Rights in Jeopardy" »


Vatican Denies Pope is Open to Recognition of Same-Sex Unions

Pope Francis has been lauded recently as both Time Magazine and The Advocate's "Person of the Year," with many citing his more socially conscious piety as a revolutionary stance within the Catholic Church. The Advocate in particular recounted the Pope's now famous quote as evidence of his, and the Church's, evolving stance on issues surrounding the LGBT community: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?"

Popefrancis1More recently, however, the Pope said he was concerned and "shocked" about news of possible gay adoptions in Malta.

Over the weekend, the Vatican denied that new remarks from Pope Francis are an indication he is open to the idea of same-sex unions.

Reuters reports:

Francis, in a conversation with leaders of religious orders published by a Jesuit journal on Friday, said the Catholic Church had to try not to scare away children who live in complex family situations, such as those whose parents were separated and those living with gay couples.

Francis gave the example of a little girl in Buenos Aires, his former diocese, who confided to her teacher the reason she was always sad was that "my mother's girlfriend doesn't like me".

The pope told the leaders of religious orders that a great challenge for the Church would be to reach out to children living in difficult or unorthodox domestic situations.

"The situation in which we live now provides us with new challenges which sometimes are difficult for us to understand," the pope said, according to the transcript of the conversation.

"How can we proclaim Christ to these boys and girls? How can we proclaim Christ to a generation that is changing? We must be careful not to administer a vaccine against faith to them," he said.

Italian media sources claimed on Sunday that the Pope's words indicated an openness to legal recognition of civil unions for gay couples, with some even stating that the Pope explicitly spoke about such unions. He did not, and now Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi has said that the media's reports were a "manipulation" and "paradoxical" to Pope Francis's worldview. 

Lombardi said the pope was merely "alluding to the suffering of children" and not taking a stand on the political debate in Italy.


Spain Colludes With Russia To Ban Same-Sex Adoptions Of Russian Children

6a00d8341c730253ef017c332b68e0970b-800wiEarlier this year one of the steps that the Russian government took to further demonize homosexuals was to ban adoptions of Russian children by gay couples and even going so far as to ban all adoptions from any country that has legalized gay marriage, such as France, regardless of the orientation of the adopting couple.

Most countries have condemned these actions, but Spain has chosen instead to bow to Russia's whims. In January, Spanish officials will be signing an accord with Russia that will allow the country to continue adopting Russian children so long as Spain prevents any of them from being adopted by same-sex couples. The accord even extends to adopted children who wind up abandoned or in some other way lose their Spanish parents; Spain will be required to report to Russia where the children have been relocated to and will not be allowed to be adopted by same-sex couples.

Sweden is also considering a similar accord, and the Putin mouthpiece Voice of Russia claimed that similar accords with the U.S. and Israel had also been in the works.


Pope Francis 'Shocked' By Gay Adoption

Francis

Time's Person of the Year has been lauded by many for what they interpret to be his more progressive approach to sexuality. However, according to The Telegraph, Pope Francis I openly encouraged Bishop Charles Scicluna of Malta (pictured below) to condemn adoption of children by same-sex couples in his Christmas sermon once the Bishop shared his concern with His Holiness:

MaltaBishop Scicluna met Pope Francis on December 12. The bishop later told the Times of Malta: “We discussed many aspects… and when I raised the issue that’s worrying me as a bishop [the right for gay couples to adopt] he encouraged me to speak out."

Indeed, the Pope was "shocked" to learn that Malta's proposed Civil Union bill allows gay adoption. And Bishop's Scicluna's controversial sermon seems to have been delivered at his prompting.

None of this should be surprising: back in Argentina, Cardinal Bergoglio roundly condemned gay adoption and said that gay marriage was diabolically inspired. But confusingly – and I still can't quite figure this out in my head – he did clearly back civil partnerships as the lesser of two evils. (When Archbishop Vincent Nichols appeared to do that, his critics in the Vatican were furious.)

Journalist James Bloodworth, in a new op-ed originally published on NewStatesman.com, remains doubtful that Francis is as liberal and progressive as some would like to believe and argues little has changed in terms of doctrine since Francis took the keys to the Holy See from Pope Benedict:

Pope Benedict was a PR disaster for the church. Yet under Francis little of substance has actually changed. The Catholic Church continues to vehemently discriminate against gay people and women, it’s simply sugar-coated its message with fashionable sound bites about inequality. And depressingly this has worked. Many otherwise erstwhile progressives have fallen into line faster than Danny Alexander at a cabinet meeting.

 We should, however, reject the notion that someone who can rescind the Church’s stance on gay sex, and chooses not to do so, is a figure worthy of admiration. Nor, if he won’t countenance women priests, is there a reason to suppose the Pope has anything of note to say about poverty. Why waste precious time worrying about anything such a person thinks?

Aside from the fact that we still hold religious figures to a lower standard than secular ones, the fawning over Pope Francis demonstrates something profoundly depressing: in the struggle for a better world, women’s and LGBT rights are still not taken seriously.  

You'll recall that earlier this year, Francis excommunicated an Australian priest who was a vocal advocate of ordination for women and gay marriage. However, as Time points out, the Priest in question was "already tagged for removal before Francis took office in March."


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