Out with Mommy

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Glee Actress Jane Lynch to Auction Disneyland Trip with Her Family at Live Auction

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The Family Equality Council will hold its 9th annual Los Angeles Awards Dinner on Saturday, February 9, at the Globe Theatre at Universal Studios Hollywood to honor NBC Network, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, and Project 10 founder Virginia Uribe for their support and efforts to advance equality for all families.  Attendees at the event as well as online bidders will have a chance to win a trip for six to Disneyland with Glee actress Jane Lynch and her family at a live auction to be held at the event.

Presenters for the evening include Sean Hayes, star of NBC’s long-running hit Will & Grace; Andrew Rannells of NBC’s new hit show The New Normal; Darren Criss, star of Fox’s Glee; and comedian and actress Molly Shannon.

NBC Chairman Bob Greenblat will accept the award for NBC Network, which is being honored for their consistent and positive representation of parents who are LGBT in primetime television.  From Friends and Will & Grace to The New Normal and Go On, for two decades NBC has been responsible for groundbreaking portrayals of LGBT parents and in doing so has helped to shape a new paradigm for the American family.

Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe is being honored for his role as a vocal advocate against the law that would have banned same-sex marriage in Minnesota.  Kluwe is well known for a colorful letter he wrote to Maryland Delegate, Emmet C. Burns on the issue of marriage equality and for his work with Minnesotans United for All Families.

Virginia Uribe, the founder of Project 10, and Friends of Project 10 is being honored for her work creating an environment for students who are LGBT that is supportive, loving, and nurturing.  Uribe helped to create such programs as the annual LGBTQ Youth Prom, which create a safe space where children and teens can feel free to express themselves and feel the support of their community. She has helped show students who are LGBT the world of acceptance so that they may  grow into strong, self-assured adults and parents.

The premier West Coast event includes a cocktail reception and dinner preceding the awards presentation.  The Family Equality Council awards were created to honor stars in the worlds of arts, entertainment, politics, and LGBT activism who advance equality for LGBT-headed families and all families.  Ticket information is available at http://www.familyequality.org/get_involved/events/annual_events/los_angeles_awards_dinner/

Celebrate | Commit| Connect

Families in the Desert

Family Equality Council is working hard every day to change attitudes and policies across the country, to ensure that all families are respected, loved, and celebrated—including families with parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. We are a community who has stood together for 30 years now, to raise our children and our voices toward fairness for all families.

 

Our Families in the Desert event is a unique experience that brings together LGBT-headed families from across the West Coast for a long weekend, designed to offer LGBT parents and their children the chance to celebrate their diversity, connect with other LGBT-headed families, and join in community conversations about ongoing advocacy for LGBT family equality.   

 

The 2012 Families in the Desert is being presented as part of a series of community events that will honor the Family Equality Council’s 30th anniversary – a year-long national celebration of our commitment to create a better world for LGBT-headed families.

 

During the weekend of October 26th – October 28th, 2012, LGBT-headed families and their friends will gather for the 2012 Families in the Desert at the Embassy Suites Palm Desert in the glorious Palm Springs area – a beautiful and scenic location, rich with a long history of welcoming the LGBT community.

The 2012 Families in the Desert event offers a unique blend of vacation-style fun and family-style programming. In addition to the wide range of crafts and games for kids during Kidapalooza, we’ll be hosting topic-based Parent Café sessions which provide opportunities for families to discuss important issues with experts in the field.

Our LGBT Family Finance Café will address everything from socially conscious investing, to tax laws that impact LGBT-headed families in particular, to real estate planning. Our Finance panelists include Elana Pianko, Financial Advisor with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, David Ellis with Ellis & Ellis CPAs, Inc., and Eric Lavey, real estate expert for Teles Properties Beverly Hills.

Informal gatherings during the weekend will provide opportunities for families to come together around common interests and experiences. One of our meet-ups will bring families together to discuss family creation and expansion options for the LGBT-headed family community. Experts from Growing Generations, The California Cryobank, and RaiseAChild.US will join us to answer individual questions about everything from public adoption, to IVF, to surrogacy, surrogacy – allowing families to tailor the experience to their needs and interests, discussing the most up-to-date advances in family formation.

Family Equality Council’s new Outspoken Generation program, our signature program for teens and young adults with LGBT parents, will also be spotlighted during Families in the Desert. On Friday evening, a panel of authors will join the youth and their families for a discussion about storytelling, authorship, and the importance of sharing your personal story. Throughout the weekend, these young adults will be introduced to messaging strategies that can have a powerful impact on our efforts to “change hearts and minds.” The weekend will conclude with a Youth Panel where members of the Outspoken Generation can share their stories with our families and other community members.

Finally, our Studio 30 Family Dance Party – our 30th anniversary version of a Studio 54 theme – will take place on Saturday night, featuring face-painting, balloon animals, and a glittery disco ambiance. The night is sure to be unforgettable – to double the fun, we’ll be hosting a Halloween Costume Contest at the dance with surprise prizes!

 

This is a getaway for LGBT-headed families like no other – see you in Palm Springs!

 

For more information, please contact our Programs Associate, Andra Oshinsky at andra@familyequality.org / 617.502.8706, or visit the Families in the Desert website, www.familyequality.org/desert.

 

Families in the Desert is a unique experience that brings together families with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents from across the West Coast and beyond for a weekend getaway. The event is designed to offer LGBT parents and their children the chance to celebrate their diversity, connect with their community, and join in conversations about our efforts for family equality.

Families in the Desert 2012 will be held Friday October 26 – Sunday, October 28 at the Embassy Suites Palm Desert.

Families in the Desert is three-day weekend full of family-friendly events – Parent & Youth Cafés, musical performances, children’s book reading and more!

The 2012 Families in the Desert is being presented as part of a series of community events that will honor Family Equality Council’s 30th anniversary – a yearlong national celebration during which we will unveil a renewed commitment to create a better world for our community of LGBT families.

During the Families in the Desert weekend, LGBT families and friends will gather for Families in the Desert 2012 in the glorious Palm Springs area – a beautiful and scenic location, rich with a long history of welcoming the LGBT community.

The 2012 Families in the Desert’s unique blend of the vacation experience and family-style programming will include:
•Parent & Youth Cafés
•Family-style meals
•Activity options, like swimming, hiking, tennis, and badminton
•Arts and crafts
•Seasonal events, like a costume contest, face-painting and prize giveaways
•A magical Saturday Night family event
•And fun galore!

This is a getaway for LGBT families like no other – see you in Palm Springs!

Special Guests

A.J. Walkley is the author of Queer Greer and an out and proud bisexual. As an advocate for sexual diversity, LGBT and bisexual rights, Walkley has spoken from East Coast to West Coast about equality for all sexualities and gender identities. She wrote Queer Greer about a teenage girl coming to terms with her sexuality after realizing the lack of literature available for LGBT teens, specifically bisexual teens, and aimed to publish the book she would have wanted to have read when coming into her own sexuality in high school and college. Walkley also wrote and edited for Rainbow Rumpus for two years from 2007-2009, understanding the needs of LGBT-headed families. Originally from Connecticut, Walkley currently resides in Phoenix, AZ, where she writes for The Huffington Post about LGBT-related issues.

David Ellis is the managing partner of Ellis & Ellis CPAs, Inc. He has over 25 years of experience in the practice of divorce, LGBT, and other family tax matters. His clients include a public company, and he is a tax advisor to the Los Angeles County Office of the Public Guardian. The firm also provides other general tax services and IRS representation. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Southern California in Communications Arts and Sciences. He is a popular writer and speaker on various tax subjects, and has provided continuing education services to other CPAs and tax professionals in the area of divorce taxation.

 

Elana Pianko joined Morgan Stanley Smith Barney to pioneer the creation of socially responsible financial investment strategies for high net worth clients, corporations and foundations. She believes that corporate responsibility and greater societal concerns should be integral to the investment decision-making process. Elana’s goal is to help preserve and grow her clients’ wealth utilizing socially responsible investment strategies to help ensure a better world for future generations. Elana sits on the Advisory Council for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Investment with Impact and has earned her Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor designation. Her key clients are socially responsible investors, domestic partners, business owners, women, families, foundations and corporations.

Amity P. Buxton, PhD, Founder of the Straight Spouse Network and member of Family Equality’s Emeritus Board, has taught almost every grade from preschool to graduate school and trained teachers K-12. Since 1986, she’s written, researched, given workshops, and presented about effects on families when a husband or wife comes out. This year, two co-authored books were published: Herbert the Hedgehog: A Story about Acceptance and Unseen-Unheard: The Journey of Straight Spouses.

 

Family Equality Council Statement On Ninth Circuit
Court Of Appeals Decision In The Perry V. Brown Case

Washington, DC  – (Feb. 7, 2012) – Family Equality Council, the national organization that connects, supports and represents the one million families with parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), today issued a statement following the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to uphold the ruling in Perry V. Brown – the  federal court case to overturn California’s Proposition 8.  The Federal Appeals Court ruled that California’s 2008 amendment banning same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional.

“Today’s decision heartens and gives hope to the 15,698 loving couples in California who are raising more than 30,000 children,” said Family Equality Council Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler.

“They, like all Americans, understand that while love makes a family, there is no denying that marriage strengthens it,” said Chrisler.  “These parents have raised their children to love their country, support their friends and treat their neighbors with respect.  Now they only ask for the fundamental American freedom to demonstrate their love and commitment to their family through marriage.  We join them in looking forward to the day when we can win the freedom to marry for them and all Americans.”

This weekend, Family Equality Council will celebrate this step forward on the journey toward the  freedom to marry and family equality for all when it honors Chad Griffin and other LGBT family advocates at the 2012 Los Angeles Awards Dinner. ( www.familyequality.org/losangeles)
 
Griffin is Co-founder and Board President of the American Foundation for Equal Rights – the group behind the effort to overturn California’s Proposition 8.

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NEW STUDY: TEENS OF LESBIAN PARENTS ARE JUST AS HAPPY AS TEENS RAISED BY DIFFERENT-SEX COUPLES

 

AMSTERDAM – January 12, 2012 – The quality of life of 17-year-olds reared in lesbian-parent families did not differ from that of a matched group of adolescents who grew up in heterosexual-parent families, according to a new study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.   “Consistently, over the past three decades, researchers have found that the daughters and sons of same-sex parents are psychologically well-adjusted. And now our new data demonstrate that 17-year-olds raised from birth by lesbian mothers are as happy as their peers,” said lead author Loes van Gelderen, MSc, University of Amsterdam.

 

The study also found, among teens with lesbian mothers, no difference in quality of life based on donor status (whether they had been conceived by known or unknown donors), experienced stigmatization (whether or not they had experienced discrimination), or maternal relationship continuity (whether their mothers were still together or had separated).

 

“The favorable outcomes for these adolescents are a reflection of good parenting by mothers who prepared their daughters and sons for the prospect of adversity,” said Principal Investigator Nanette Gartrell, MD, of the Williams Institute.

 

In the study, Quality of Life of Adolescents Raised From Birth by Lesbian Mothers, 78 17-year-olds with lesbian mothers were matched on gender, age, parental education, and ethnic background with adolescents in heterosexual-parent families that were drawn from a representative statewide sample.  The adolescents in both groups gave a numerical score (0 = minimum; 10= maximum) to each of a series of statements such as, “I feel I’m getting along with my parents/guardians,” “I look forward to the future,” and ”I feel good about myself.”

 

The adolescents with lesbian mothers responded generally in the same way as the teenagers with heterosexual parents The data in the new report comes from adolescents whose families are participants in the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS), the longest-running and largest prospective investigation of lesbian mothers and their children in the United States. Initiated by Nanette Gartrell, MD, in 1986, the NLLFS examines the social, psychological, and emotional development of the children as well as the dynamics of planned lesbian families.

 

This study was conducted by Loes van Gelderen, MSc. (University of Amsterdam), Henny Bos, PhD (University of Amsterdam; Williams Visiting International Scholar 2012), Nanette Gartrell, MD (University of Amsterdam; 2011-12 Williams Institute Visiting Distinguished Scholar ), Jo Hermanns, PhD (University of Amsterdam), and Ellen C. Perrin, MD (Floating Hospital, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA).

 

This morning, Family Equality Council is releasing a groundbreaking report in Washington D.C. designed to focus the national spotlight on the 2 million children being raised by LGBT parents.

Read the report and find out how you can help  spread the word!

All Children Matter shows how our kids have become the victims of antiquated laws, discriminatory policies and hostile political decisions.

We know our kids live everyday in legal and social jeopardy because of these laws. Now everyone will know that our children matter.

The report shows how current laws can:

  • Deny legal ties to both of their parents—which affects everything from custody to a parent being able to make emergency medical decisions for his or her child.
  • Separate children from their parents in cases of divorce or death of a parent.
  • Tie their access to critical federal and state safety net programs to family structure, rather than need.
  • Deny our children access to quality child care and early childhood education.
  • Deny our kids Social Security survivor benefits or inheritance when a parent dies.
  • Put a child’s legal ties to his or her parents in jeopardy if the family crosses state lines.
  • Deny forever homes to 115,000 children awaiting adoption.

The report wraps up with a set of practical policy recommendations that could fix the discrimination that exists today.

I will be in Washington D.C. later this morning talking to policymakers and the media about the report and I wanted to give you two opportunities to participate.

Bevan Dufty is running to become Mayor of San Francisco. If elected on November 8, 2011, he would be the first openly gay Mayor of San Francisco. Last week he made headlines around the world when his first television campaign commercial — produced by Obama ad guru Mark Putnam — was released.  It was the first time in history an LGBT candidate for office had featured his or her own child in a campaign spot.  You can see that ad here:

http://www.bevandufty.com/content/someplacenew

Bevan is a public school parent, one of the few in the race. He knows San Francisco needs high-quality public schools — for the families and children of today and the workers of tomorrow. He also knows if San Francisco schools don’t get better, families will continue to leave the city in droves for better options. His plan for educastion ensures that every child in San Francisco has a school that succeeds.  

Here’s another video of Bevan’s appearance on MSNBC last week where he discussed the campaign and his most important job — being a father.

This article talks about a very disturbing DIY trend in insemination.  This is VERY, VERY dangerous territory, legally, emotionally, and otherwise, for mother and child.  The author glosses over a major point, “What if the donor claims custody?”  The issue of health concerns is also great, if a donor conceals health problems.  The tests for a donor are much more stringent than just a few STD tests, such as Cystic Fibrosis screening.  Lawyers must be involved before this is attempted, or else they will be involved later.  Sadly and tragically, too many times a well-intentioned mother-to-be who wants her child to have the benefit of knowing his or her biological father ends up in a horrible situation when a deceitful man charms her into trusting him and then uses her as an unwitting surrogate and later sues for custody.  The one who suffers most is the child who is caught in this situation.  DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.

You Got Your Sperm Where?

 Meet a ‘donorsexual’ on the web—and he’ll service you anywhere.

by  | October 2, 2011 10:00 AM EDT

For months, Beth Gardner and her wife, Nicole, had been looking for someone to help them conceive. They began with sperm banks, which have donors of almost every background, searchable by religion, ancestry, even the celebrity they most resemble. But the couple balked at the prices—at least $2,000 for the sperm alone—and the fact that most donors were anonymous; they wanted their child to have the option to one day know his or her father. So in the summer of 2010, at home with their two dogs and three cats, Beth and Nicole typed these words into a search engine: “free sperm donor.”

A few clicks later, the couple slid into an online underground, a mishmash of personal ads, open forums, and members-only websites for women seeking sperm—and men giving it away. Most donors pledge to verify their health and relinquish parental rights, much like regular sperm-bank donors. But unlike their mainstream counterparts, these men don’t get paid. They’re also willing to reveal their identities and allow any future offspring to contact them. Many of the men say they do it out of altruism, but some also talk unabashedly of kinky sex and spreading their gene pool.

Curious, Beth and Nicole posted to a Yahoo Group, and within days they had more than a dozen suitors. “We got some weirdos,” says Beth, a 35-year-old tech professional near San Diego. But most of the donors were “very nice and obviously well educated.” After careful vetting—consisting of a homemade questionnaire, interviews, reference checks, and STD tests—the couple settled on a 30-something professional and arranged the donation.

Like most women in search of free sperm, Beth and Nicole asked for artificial insemination, or AI. As opposed to natural insemination (code for actual sex), AI typically involves injecting fresh sperm into the vagina, or loading it into a latex cup that fits on the cervix. Beth and Nicole had to work around three people’s schedules and an ovulation calendar, so the venues at which they met their donor had a saucy impromptu feel: a hotel, the back of the couple’s SUV, a camper trailer, a Starbucks bathroom. At Starbucks, the donor ejaculated in the bathroom in private, exited, and handed the sperm-filled latex cup to Nicole, who in turn entered the bathroom and attached the cup to her cervix. As nature took its course, the three sat down for coffee together. “It wasn’t my highest moment,” says Beth. They didn’t conceive.

The couple is trying again with a new donor—and Beth has become a fervent believer in the strategy. In January, she launched the Free Sperm Donor Registry (FSDR), a sleek, user-friendly portal that works kind of like a dating site, only the women are listed as “recipients” and men as “donors.” The homepage quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The only gift is a portion of thyself.” Six months in, FSDR has more than 2,000 members, including about 400 donors, and claims a dozen pregnancies. The first live birth is expected this fall.

Reproductive medicine is as close to miracle work as humans can muster: it has supplemented the stork with the syringe, creating thousands of new lives annually where none seemed possible. But in lifting the fog around infertility, doctors have moved nature’s most intimate act deeper into the lab, and created a population of prospective parents—straight, gay, single, and married—who crave a more human connection. That need is now being met by sites like FSDR, which joins a global boom in the exchange of free, fresh sperm between strangers.

At least six Yahoo Groups, three Google sites, and about a dozen fee-based websites are dedicated to the cause. Most of them are in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, where sperm banks have seen donations drop in the wake of recent laws that limit fees and, in some cases, forbid anonymity. The donor pool is still large in the U.S., where college kids can make as much as $12,000 a year from sperm banks for anonymous twice-weekly donations.

But sperm banks, though regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, carry risk. In recent years sperm with a host of serious diseases and disorders has been sold to hundreds of women, according to medical journals and other published reports. Earlier this year ABC News identified at least 24 donor-children whose father had a rare aorta defect that could potentially kill his offspring at any minute. And in September, The New York Times reported on sperm banks’ creating 100-kid clusters around a single donor, raising questions about not only disease, but accidental incest.

// Cost is also a concern. In many states, insurance won’t cover donor insemination unless a woman can show that she hasn’t been able to get pregnant. This makes it hard for lesbian couples and single women who don’t have male partners. And all couples face insurance caps that can mean thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket pay.

Many women also believe their donor-conceived children have a right to know their fathers, something most sperm banks have resisted, fearing such openness would scare off potential donors. Even banks that do reveal dads’ identities will do so only when a child turns 18.

As the first generation of donor-kids come of age, a growing number are expressing frustration at this closed-door policy. Confessions of a Cryokid and Anonymous Us are among the websites where they come to vent, airing unhappiness at feeling “half-adopted” and aching at the thought that their fathers could be anyone. “The system is severely broken,” says Wendy Kramer, founder of the Donor Sibling Registry, a website that unites kids who have the same donor-fathers.

Of course, the market for free sperm raises its own set of questions. What if a donor sues for custody? What if he lies about an STD? Is he a potential threat to public health? What if his real motive is sex—and would that even matter? Just who are these guys anyway?

To find out, I registered at FSDR as a “just looking” member and spent two months following forum discussions, participating in chats, surfing through profiles, and interviewing more than a dozen donors and recipients. I also contacted donors who have set up personal websites or advertised on other sites. What I found was a universe that’s often more lascivious than a Nicholson Baker novel, but somehow less bizarre and more relatable. Far from being overrun by sex-crazed “sperminators” and “desperate girls,” the way British tabloids have portrayed the business, most of what I found was mundanely human.

Many of the women want to reproduce on their own terms, while they still can. Some have had miscarriages; others are widowed; still others, divorced. Some say they got pregnant when they were much younger and gave up the baby or aborted it, and now want another chance. Others have been busy with careers. Hope, a single 43-year-old zoologist, echoes most FSDR searchers when she says, “I really want to have a child, and I want to give that child the best shot at having a good life, which is why I chose this route.”

As with traditional sperm banks, most of FSDR’s users are lesbian couples or would-be single mothers. But the site does have an active cohort of straight pairs and married women, like a 37-year-old homemaker near Columbus, Ohio, who gave her name as Wendy. She says on a forum post that her husband—whose sperm count was diminished by a childhood case of the mumps—interviewed prospective donors with her. His one condition: AI only. “It seems more ‘our’ baby if sex is not involved,” she recalls him saying. Their son is due in January.

Donors on FSDR are a bawdier mix of high intentions and caveman dreams. One donor, whom Carissa, a 38-year-old divorcée in Fargo, N.D., was about to invite over for a “natural insemination” session, spooked her. “He wanted me to yell, ‘Make me pregnant!’?” during sex, she says.

It’s a telling detail. Many donors say they are motivated not by sex so much as a desire to spawn as many children as possible. “I actually have little interest in even a stone-cold fox if she isn’t going to get pregnant,” says Ray, a 38-year-old who declined to give his real name. Ray, who already had two kids with his wife and claims to have two more via one-night stands, started donating sperm in 2009. He prefers to donate the natural way, which he says has a higher chance of success than AI (it doesn’t), and he boasts of six births and six current pregnancies in attempts with about 40 different women. “I guess in some ways, helping lesbians, I am like an astronaut of inner space,” he says, “going where no man has gone before.”

One of the men who responded to Beth and Nicole, a married 29-year-old, said his IQ was in the 99.8th percentile (“note: results available”) and said he would like to “propagate my genes, and help support the society of tomorrow by combating dysgenic reproductive trends.” Translation: make babies as smart as he is. Down a few pegs on the pomposity scale, there’s “Mongol,” a 31-year-old Canadian who donates AI-style on both sides of the border. He arrives prepared, with a porn-loaded BlackBerry, headphones (to preserve the tranquillity of the moment), Hitachi-brand penis massager, and likes “the whole idea of having people out there related to you.”

It’s a motivation that flummoxes some sex researchers. Rene Almeling, a sociologist at Yale University and the author of a new study of the fertility market, Sex Cells, says that among the 20 sperm-bank donors she interviewed, the most common motives were money, spreading “amazing genes,” as one guy put it, and helping women conceive. University of Nevada, Las Vegas, anthropologist Peter Gray, coauthor of Fatherhood, about the evolution of paternal behavior, says this drive to propagate reminds him of the ancient khan men of Mongolia—and of Moulay Ismail, the 17th-century emperor of Morocco—men who fathered as many as a thousand children, parenting none of them. “I’ll have to think about this a bit,” he says.

As the market for free sperm grows, regulators are keeping a watchful eye. Last December, Canada’s public-health department issued an “information update,” noting the rise of free-sperm websites and warning that “the distribution of fresh semen [for assisted conception] is prohibited.” In the U.S., the FDA recently targeted at least one donor, citing his failure to comply with a 2005 law that requires donors to undergo STD and communicable-disease tests, reviewed by doctors, within seven days of every donation. (Commercial sperm banks use frozen sperm and test donors at the beginning and end of a six-month quarantine.) The case has emerged as a legal challenge for the alternative world, potentially slowing the market, since such tests can run up to $10,000, making donations cost-prohibitive.

It began in December 2006, when Trent Arsenault, now 36 and a bachelor outside San Francisco, began offering his sperm through Trentdonor.org, a website bedecked with shots of Arsenault as a cute toddler and hunky outdoorsman. Tall and blond, Arsenault works as an engineer at a tech company and is a former Naval Academy midshipman (he dropped out to move to Silicon Valley). His qualifications might make a sperm bank drool. But he prefers to work independently, he says, having already donated to about 50 women, mostly Bay Area lesbians. Perhaps thanks in part to his twice-daily “fertility smoothies” (a blend of blueberries, almonds, and other vitamin-rich fare), he has sired at least 10 children, he says.

His prospects came to a halt in September 2010, when FDA agents knocked on the door of his 700-square-foot bachelor pad. They interviewed him in his bedroom, and collected medical records and other material related to how he “recovers and distributes semen,” according to the FDA investigation. The tone was cordial, Arsenault recalls. He even wrote a thank-you letter to the agency, complimenting “the professional and courteous attitude” of its agents.

But the following month, there came another knock on the door, this time from local police delivering an FDA order to “cease manufacture” of sperm, the first such order leveled against an individual citizen, according to a search of government records. Per the order, the agency considers Arsenault to be essentially a one-man sperm bank, referring to him as a “firm,” and alleging that he “does not provide adequate protections against communicable diseases.” If he engages in the “recovery, processing, storage, labeling, packaging, or distribution” of sperm, he faces a $100,000 fine and a year in prison. “I saved the FDA letter,” Arsenault says. “It may be worth something someday on eBay.”

In some ways, Arsenault is like other guys who are giving away their sperm, “fulfilling a needed role as women realize that anonymous biological fathers often deprive their offspring a needed identity,” as he put it in a letter to the FDA.

But he also finds the work gratifying in its own right. His only sexual activity, he says, involves masturbating into a cup and handing off the cup. “I describe myself as donorsexual,” he says, “so my sexual activity is limited to donation.” He jokes that in a few years he’ll be “the 40-year-old virgin with 15 kids.” He’s appealed the FDA ruling on the grounds that free sperm donation is a form of sex, and thus not subject to government interference. The case is under internal agency review as officials decide whether Arsenault is trying to “skirt the law,” as the FDA’s lawyers have argued in documents sent to Arsenault, or if free sperm donation should be protected as a private sexual matter. The FDA declined to comment on the case.

Any attempt to limit private sperm donation is “preposterous,” says Beth Gardner, the FSDR founder. “If it’s legal to go to a bar, get drunk, and sleep with a random stranger, then it can’t possibly be illegal to provide clean, healthy sperm in a cup.” Still, she’s the first to admit that not all donors are professional, and not all recipients make the most informed choices. She hopes FSDR will help change that, which is why it prohibits nudity, dirty talk, cruising for casual sex, and any behavior that other members deem harassing or inappropriate. There are also testimonials, how-to articles, cost comparisons, and legal materials.

Now Gardner says she has plans for expansion, adding an egg-donor section and recruiting bloggers. She may change the name to the Known Donor Registry because it’s more “expansive.” “The site is at the point now where I need to take it to the next level,” she says. In August page views topped more than 2 million—and, like its users, Gardner only hopes they’ll multiply.

As for Arsenault, while he waits to hear about his reproductive future, he is enjoying the fruits of his past, posting pictures of his babies, and keeping up an active relationship with the five or six families who have requested one so far. Last month he visited with Keri and Amber Pigott-Robertson, a 30-something lesbian couple in Modesto, Calif., who found Arsenault through a Google search in 2009 and now have a 1-year-old daughter via his donation.

“When he saw her for the first time, his face just lit up,” says Amber, who made peach pie for the occasion. “He was a perfect match. He gave us what we had been longing for, what we felt would complete us. So there’s no expressing how much gratitude I have for him. People like Trent come once in a lifetime.”

Just wanted to pass along this letter I received from Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler of the Family Equality Council.  I am fortunate to send my son to a pre-school in LA where he and our family are treated the same as everyone else.  There has never been an issue, question, challenge, uncomfortable moment, etc., ever at our son’s school because he is being raised with two moms, but we realize not every school and community is like ours, and of course we don’t know yet how it will be for our son when he gets older and goes to elementary school, middle school and high school.

Family Equality is an outstanding organization that is doing great things to help our families achieve equality.  I am proud to be a supporter.

Dear Pearson,

This month, as we send our kids back to school, I’m reminded about all the
ways we try to set them up for success. We look for the best schools, help them
with their homework, encourage them in after-school activities and do everything
in our power to make sure that they stand out as great students and all-around
good kids.

We want more for them.

But sadly, as the kids of LGBT parents, they’re asked to settle for
less.

Less protection from bullying and harassment.

Less security from laws and school policies that don’t include them.

Less support from some school districts that encourage them to keep silent
instead of speak out about LGBT issues.

I was astounded when I first saw the results of Family Equality Council’s
study that found that 42% of children with LGBT parents face bullying
and harassment.1

I’m sorry, I won’t settle for my kids being treated as less than. Neither
should you.

That’s why we are working to pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the
Student Non-Discrimination Act, two bills currently in Congress that together
would prohibit bullying, discrimination and harassment of students
because they have LGBT parents or friends
, or because of their actual
or perceived sexual orientation.

During this critical back-to-school month I am calling on ALL of our friends
and supporters to stand up for our children and help keep them safe in
school by taking two important steps right now:

1. Take action. Help us to pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the
Student Non-Discrimination Act. Email your
legislators and urge them to co-sponsor both of these
bills!

2. Give. For the same reason you set aside money for dance lessons or
basketball leagues, I’m asking you to help us fight to make sure your child has
more. You can be assured that we’ll put your gift to work right away in schools
and on Capitol Hill to fight for your equal rights as citizens and as a
family.

Will you join with me now? We can’t settle for less for our children.
Help protect our children and families with your
support today.

Thank you so much for being a part of our family. We couldn’t do this
essential work without you.

With all my thanks,

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Two nurses in Las Vegas, Nevada, both named Dina, got tired of crossing out pronouns and editing greeting cards for each other, family and friends, so they created Teazled.com, a new online Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender greeting card company for non-traditional families.  The two Dinas, who have been in a loving marriage for seven years and raised four children together, started Teazled to offer LGBT families cards that represent their families and life milestones.

   “Dina and I started Teazled because we felt a void looking for a greeting card to express our feelings during life’s special occasions, only to have to edit the available selection,” said Dina Proto, cofounder of Teazled. “We understand non-traditional families share the same traditional bonds of love and respect. We want the non-traditional family to be able to celebrate those meaningful moments, express their innermost thoughts and communicate with those they cherish.”

Sure, there are other LGBT-oriented greeting card companies, but often the images are R rated.  Teazled showcases tasteful greeting cards for individuals and their families for 25 different occasions, including coming out and commitment ceremonies.  All cards are $3.99 each plus $1 for shipping.  To order, go to www.teazled.com

 

    

They’ve got some big hearts in Texas!

Series Helps to Fill Gaps in Bookstores and Library Offerings, Provide Vital Tool for Educators and Parents 

MINNEAPOLIS, May 23, 2011— Rainbow Rumpus, the online magazine for kids and teens with LGBT parents, is launching a free series of downloadable books designed to fight bullying and promote acceptance. Each book tells a story about a child with lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender parents, and gives parents and teachers tools for talking about family diversity. The newest title, “Same, Same,” focuses on two pre-schoolers whose friendship founders when one learns to do something the other cannot.  The main character’s fathers support her as she figures out what to do. Young children from all types of families will identify with the friendship dilemma the characters face, be enthralled by the rhythm of the language, and enjoy the opportunity to create illustrations on the interior pages of the book.

There has been an overwhelmingly warm reception to the series with families and teachers downloading an average of 50 books per month in 2011. “We can’t find any books in the bookstores and libraries where we live,” noted one parent. “We’re so glad these are here.” The picture books are available at http://www.rainbowrumpus.org/htm/printable.htm .

The series has been recognized as an important new tool by both educators and curriculum developers. “These types of books are difficult to find at the library,” noted one teacher, “and I think it’s important to have them in the classroom.”  The benefits to students are enhanced by a teachers’ guide included with each title. Welcoming Schools, a HRC sponsored curriculum which combats bullying, lists Rainbow Rumpus’ picture books as a useful resource. The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) also works to increase awareness of the books among educators.

News about my home state from the my favorite family organization.

 

FAMILY EQUALITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR END TO ADOPTION DISCRIMINATION IN VIRGINIA AND OTHER STATES

Washington, DC – (Apr. 6, 2011) – Family Equality Council, America’s foremost advocate for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) families, today called on Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell to support a proposal that would allow prospective parents, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, to adopt children in Virginia.

“This proposal would create loving homes for many children who are in foster care or who are awaiting placement in foster homes,” said Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director of the Family Equality Council. “Opponents of this measure would have you believe this is about safeguarding traditional family values. For those children who need parents, there is nothing of greater value than the support and love of people who want to make a difference in their lives.”

McDonnell has until April 16 to take action.

Family Equality Council is currently working with Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) and other lawmakers on proposed legislation that would eliminate discriminatory adoption practices. The Every Child Deserves a Family Act would restrict federal funding to states and child-welfare agencies that discriminate against prospective parents based on sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. Chrisler added, “Every day more than 120,000 kids wait to be adopted from the foster care system.

Approximately 2 million LGBT people want to provide homes for those children and lowering the barriers would solve our child welfare crisis.” According to Family Equality Council, there are now more than 1 million LGBT parents raising 2 million children in America today.

from the UK’s Mail Online

Mothers’ pride: Lesbian couple beat 60million-to-one odds to have FIVE babies

By Richard Shears

A lesbian couple are beaming with happiness after becoming parents to quintuplets in a world first.

Melissa Keevers, 27, and Rosemary Nolan, 22, have entered the record books after their five babies, conceived with a U.S. sperm donor, came into the world in Australia.

The chances of a woman becoming pregnant with quints from a sperm donor without the aid of IVF are estimated at 60million to one.

Joy: Mother Melissa Keevers touches one of her five babies in an incubator as her partner Rosemary Nolan looks onJoy: Mother Melissa Keevers touches one of her five babies in an incubator as her partner Rosemary Nolan looks on

The two boys and three girls join an IVF child already in the family – 18-month-old Lily – born to Miss Keevers.

Miss Keevers has become mother again to the five newcomers, Charlie, Noah, Eireann, Evie and Abby but the multiple births have not come as a surprise – the couple told the world about their expected quints last October.

Now Miss Keevers has told Australia’s Woman’s Day magazine that in the days leading up to the births she spent three days in the birthing suite – ‘they wouldn’t let me leave in case it happened’.

Irish-born partner Miss Nolan, who met Miss Keevers after arriving in Australia from Waterford in 2008, said that at the time ‘I was running around like a headless chicken!

‘I was in shock thinking it was actually going to happen.’

The women, who live in Brisbane, admit that they are going to need a team of volunteers to help them raise the children in the first few months and years.’

It's A Boy! First baby Charlie is delivered during a Caesarian section operation in an Australian hospitalIt’s A Boy! First baby Charlie is delivered during a Caesarian section operation in an Australian hospital

Amazing: Charlie, asleep in an incubator, beat 60million -to-one odds to be conceivedAmazing: Charlie, asleep in an incubator, beat 60million -to-one odds to be conceived

They have realised this in the weeks following the births in January – and even during the births Miss Keevers had to be attended by a team of 25 hospital staff.

Proud: Miss Keevers, 27, left, and Miss Nolan, 21, during the pregnancyProud: Miss Keevers, 27, left, and Miss Nolan, 21, during the pregnancy

‘We couldn’t hold them, as they were so small,’ said Miss Nolan. ‘We wanted to cuddle them but we knew the biggest thing was to make sure they’re all right.’

As the babies grew stronger the two mothers were allowed to have what they described as ‘kangaroo cuddles’, where the baby is placed down the front of their shirt so they can have skin contact.

Miss Keevers recalled for the magazine that when she was pregnant with Lily she knew it was her who who moving.

‘With the quins, I just knew the one on the bottom right was moving.

There were movements all over. I couldn’t pinpoint who it was.’ At first it was feared that Eireann would need an operation to correct a murmer in her heart, but she has improved and doctors hope they won’t need to operate after all.

The women are now looking forward to taking the babies home to live with Lily.

‘We’re not sure she understand they’re all going to come home,’ said Miss Nolan. ‘But she likes going to visit them at the hospital and kissing them through their crib.’

The quints’ father is a 27-year-old dark-haired law student with good teeth and eyesight and a high IQ. He waived all rights to meet the children.

Under Queensland law, Miss Nolan will not be legally recognised as a parent of the children.

Only the birth mother will be known as the parent and Miss Nolan will also not be allowed to adopt the children.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1363759/Mothers-pride-Lesbian-couple-beat-60million-odds-FIVE-babies.html#ixzz1FxV16v2V

 

 

 

 

Cynthia Nixon’s fiancee has given birth to their son.

The ‘Sex and the City’ actress and her partner Christine Marinoni, 43, welcomed son Max Ellington Nixon-Marinoni into the world on Monday, their spokesperson has confirmed.

The representative said: “Christine and baby are doing great.”

No further information has been given.

Cynthia, 44, has two children,  Samantha, 14, and eight-year-old Charles, whose father is her former boyfriend Danny Mozes.

 “Maybe I’m just lucky, but I feel like Christine is so amazing with our kids – because they’re our kids.  I feel like falling in love with her is part of being amazed at how she makes our family so much better,”  said Nixon.

Cynthia and Christine started dating in 2004 and announced their engagement in 2009

 


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