#WeAreOrlando

RIP

RIP

Early Sunday morning we heard the news that a shooter had murdered many people at a gay club in Orlando, Florida.  We were immediately concerned in part because we have friends who were in Orlando last week to celebrate Gay Days.  We later learned that they were home safe before the shooting started, but many were not so lucky.  49 LGBT people and their allies had their lives cut short, and 53 people were injured.  This is the worst mass shooting in US history.

In the aftermath, it has become clear that the shooter was an American born Muslim who was married twice to women but apparently frequented gay dating websites and clubs.  He legally purchased the two guns he used to commit these crimes and even though he had been on terrorist watch lists, the Republican controlled Senate blocked a bill that would prevent such people from buying guns last December.

I sincerely hope this incident teaches many that homophobia and self loathing can indeed be lethal.  Maybe this will result in some sensible gun control laws, but I do not have a lot of hope.  After all, if a classroom full of 1st graders slaughtered in 2012 couldn’t move GOP controlled Congress to do something, what chance do 100+ dead and injured homosexuals have today?

Some Friends Fade, But Family is Forever

 

unfriend

To excited first time parents to be, I would offer encouragement and well wishes, but a bit of sobering advice as well: Be prepared to lose some friends.  Most experienced parents know of this phenomenon, but for a couple reasons that I will go into below, I think this effect is felt even more acutely by gay parents.

Fact: I have lost more friends becoming a gay parent than I have coming out as gay in the first place.  I have always been a bit of a nerd and thus in grade school I wasn’t a popular kid, but I mingled with a group of similarly studious friends.  Two of my best friends, “Rich” and “Nick” remained tight with me even though we all went to different colleges.  When I came out of the closet in college, I was pleased that both of them were accepting of me and remained close friends well into adulthood.  Rich and Nick were in turn friendly when I introduced them to Josh.  Even though the three of us lived in different places, when we visited we would all hang out together like old times.  Nick would share about his girlfriend problems, and Rich invited Josh and me to celebrate his engagement and his wedding to his wife.  It was around this time of transitioning to a different phase of adulthood that Josh and I started talking about having children in earnest.  Just like Rich and Nick shared their major life events with us, Josh and I were excited to share about this endeavor with them.  Rich was clearly in a happy place in his life and was happy for us when we shared the news.  I distinctly remember calling Nick to giddily tell him about how Josh and I were going to California to look into gestational surrogacy and become parents.  My heart sank when he responded by saying, “Why are you telling me this?” In further discussion it became clear that Nick did not understand why we would ever want to have to children, and that he was not particularly happy for us.  I ended the rapidly deteriorating conversation and hung up the phone before it became an argument.  We exchanged superficial pleasantries at Rich’s wedding, and then we did not speak for about two years.  Around the time that we were planning AJ and JJ’s first birthday party, I received an email from Nick.  He was attempting to strike up a conversation and asked the question,  “What ever happened between us?” as if he was oblivious to how my feelings were deeply hurt.  I responded angrily that he knew very well what happened, and he again responded, this time stating openly what I knew to be the truth all along: He disagreed with the idea of two men raising children and felt it would adversely affect children to be raised in a non-traditional household.  In retrospect I feel that Nick was perfectly fine with the novelty of having gay friends that hung out in gay bars doing stereotypically gay things, but as soon as his gay friends decided to be real people and live their lives outside of a socially acceptable second class box, he became disapproving.

After AJ and JJ were born, many good friends, most of them gay, faded away more slowly.  In our first few years living in Florida, Josh and I had amassed a large group of gay friends.  Most of them had no interest in having children, but they were all very happy for us all the same when we announced that we were expecting.  We invited them all to a baby shower shortly before AJ and JJ were born and the party was very well attended.  After AJ and JJ were born, I appreciated that these friends continued to invite us to go out at night to the bars or have wine tasting parties in their homes.  Because we were busy with twin babies, we would either pass or try to send one of us out to have fun while the other stayed home with the kids.  Inevitably, the invitations became fewer and far between.  Unlike Nick, there have been no hard feelings involved, so I don’t fault these friends in the slightest.  Our unusual situation as gay guys with kids just didn’t fit into their social calendars neatly.  That’s okay.

Losing so many friends over the years both gay and straight, either suddenly or slowly over the years, I have only a touch of sadness.  In place of these friends, I have a large beautiful family.  These four children bring me unlimited and enduring joy and fulfillment.  We are beginning to make a few new friends as well. They are usually fellow parents, and often happen to be gay dads themselves, who seem to be more understanding of our priorities.  Reaching out online we have found some groups of like minded gay parents like the Handsome Father and Gays With Kids.  These groups do amazing and much needed work connecting gay dads around the country and offering support for our special family situation.

Everything I really need in life is right here.

Everything I really need in life is right here.

#DoYourJob

Married four times, won't let gays marry once.

Married four times, won’t let gays marry once.

I just want to take a moment to say, “I told you so.” Five months ago I posted about all the fuss with bakers and florists refusing to serve gays, and I predicted that the true dilemma would be government officials like Kim Davis, County Clerk in Kentucky, refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.

After she turned same sex couples away, they filed suit along with the ACLU and asked for punitive fines, not jail time. Kim enjoyed free (and bad) legal representation from Liberty Counsel and proceeded to refuse court orders to do her job. She was quickly dismissed by the SCOTUS earlier this week and was thrown in jail for contempt of court yesterday after again refusing to issue licenses, or even to allow her deputies without moral objections to do so in her stead.

And now the conservatives have their darling martyr of the moment sitting in jail. She is surely raking in cash donations from sympathetic haters nationwide and will be laughing all the way to the bank as soon as she is released. I want the media to do a “Where Are They Now?” investigation on Sweetcakes by Melissa, Memories Pizza, and Kim Davis 10 years after their 15 minutes of infamy to see how holy they are living their lives after cashing in on hate.

The Surrogacy Landscape in 2015

Surrogacy in US or abroad can be wonderful. Our family is living proof.

Surrogacy in US or abroad can be wonderful. Our family is living proof.

A lot has happened in the 2 years since DJ and MJ were born in India.  India has implemented the discriminatory regulation that surrogacy can only be offered to heterosexual couples married for more than two years.  Gay couples looked toward Thailand as an alternative only to have it shut down amidst military coup and scandal last year.  The next destination, Nepal, was hit with an earthquake earlier this year, and yesterday a court in Nepal suspended commercial surrogacy pending further review.  The options for gay couples seeking to become parents through surrogacy have become much more limited, and so my 2013 comparison of international vs. domestic surrogacy is no longer accurate.  International surrogacy has become a treacherous path to parenthood that I cannot in good conscience recommend because of possible disastrous situations like this one and this one.  I will be taking down the comparison page and leave the original 2013 entry in my archive for historical purposes.  Surrogacy in the US remains a safe option, and costs have decreased somewhat as more agencies come into operation to compete for clientele.

Josh and I are forever grateful for our positive surrogacy experiences in both California and India.  We are saddened that the options for gay couples hoping to become parents through surrogacy around the world have dwindled so.  I can only hope that in places like the UK, Israel, and Australia, their respective governments can recognize the extraordinary lengths gay couples have gone to have children, and better allow for well-regulated fair practices of surrogacy closer to home.

#DirtyHalfDozen

After repeatedly losing in court and having exhausted almost all of its legal options, the National Organization for Marriage released today a list of the donors that helped them campaign in 2009 for the repeal of marriage equality in Maine.  Detailed listings reveal that the vast majority of more than $2 million dollars spent in Maine toward getting marriage equality (temporarily) repealed in 2009 came from only a half dozen donors – 5 individuals and one organization.

Sean Fieler

Sean Fieler

Topping the list at $1.25 million donated is Sean Fieler.  He is an unabashed opponent of LGBT and abortion rights.  He is also a board member of the Witherspoon Institute, which funded the widely discredited Regnerus study seeking to smear gay parents as harmful to their children.

Terrence Caster and his wife Barbara

Terrence Caster and his wife Barbara

Next on the list having donated $300,000 is Terrence Caster, a San Diego businessman who owns A-1 Self Storage that has locations in California and Texas.  Unsurprisingly, he also contributed heavily to the Prop 8 ballot in California from 2008 much closer to his home.  Anyone who does business with A-1 Self Storage of CA or TX that has a problem with their money going toward political hate campaigns should considering moving their belongings elsewhere.

John Templeton Jr.

John Templeton Jr.

Tied with Terrence at $300,000 is John Templeton Jr., M.D.  Dr. Templeton presided over the Templeton Foundation.  John Templeton Sr. established this foundation for philanthropic purposes and, according to its website, “expected the John Templeton Foundation to stand apart from any consideration of dogma or personal religious belief.”  Well, so much for carrying on that legacy.  Dr. Templeton died earlier this year, so NOM should not expect any personal contributions from him in the future.

In Service to All...Unless You Are Gay

In Service to All…Unless You Are Gay

The Knights of Columbus is supposedly the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization, but they seemed to be operating like an anonymous hate group closer to the KKK when they donated $140,000 to NOM.

The only donor from Maine was Richard Kurtz

The only donor from Maine was Richard Kurtz

Richard Kurtz bears the distinction of being the only Maine resident on this list when he gave $50,000 to NOM in defense of bigotry.

emphaticbrian

Does Benjamin Brown have any relation to this angry man?

Closing out the list at $200 donated is some sad sack in Michigan named Benjamin Brown who possibly didn’t realize he was in the company of millionaires.  Any relation to current NOM head Brian S. Brown perhaps?

This very short list of donors is consistent with previous reports about the funding sources of NOM.  They constantly plead for online donations on their website, and like to create the illusion of a movement by speaking as if they represent throngs of supporters.  The truth is that they are operated with the financial support of very few, wealthy individuals.  These people should be brought out from the shadows so they can take responsibility for their hateful actions.  This compounded with the fact that they have not seen many returns on their political investments lately hopefully means that the donations to NOM will dry up very quickly and they may be bankrupt very soon.