Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 8 / 23 February 2017
 

Online Extra: Wedding Bell Blues: Institute releases report highlighting same-sex couples, kids

NEWS


s.hemmelgarn@ebar.com

San Francisco residents Luis Tamayo, left, and David Thompson recently adopted Lucas Tamayo-Thompson. (Photo: Courtesy David Thompson)
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A New York-based adoption institute has released a report examining same-sex couples raising children in the U.S.

"Expanding Resources for Children III: Research-Based Best Practices in Adoption by Gays and Lesbians," was issued October 20 by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and David M. Brodzinsky. Brodzinsky is the institute's research and project director.

Among other recommendations, the Adoption Institute says there should be advocacy for same-sex marriage laws.

"The social institution of marriage brings clear long-term psychological (and other benefits) to children; partnerships between adoption professionals and LGBT organizations; and the promotion of positive press coverage of gay- and lesbian-headed families," the report says.

The study was based on four years of research that included a review of adoption practice literature and a survey of adoption agency practices. Marriage equality backers the David Bohnett Foundation and Gill Foundation funded the report.

Among the key findings are that at least 60 percent of the country's adoption agencies accept non-heterosexual parental applicants and almost 40 percent have knowingly placed children with them.

That means almost any lesbian, gay man, or same-sex couple can find a professional to work with them, according to the report, which is available at http://www.adoptioninstitute.org.

"We know the majority of adoption agencies readily work with gay and lesbian clients, and our research shows that most want guidance about how best to do that," Adam Pertman, the institute's executive director, said in a statement.

David Thompson, 49, and Luis Tamayo, 51, have been working with the San Francisco-based Adoption Connection to bring a baby into their family. In May, they became legal guardians of Lucas Tamayo-Thompson, who was born that month in Tennessee.

Tamayo and Thompson aren't married but are registered domestic partners. In an interview, Thompson said as far as the couple can tell, being legally married wouldn't help them in terms of raising a child.

"The domestic partner law in California appears to be quite expansive," Thompson said. The law recognizes their full parenthood of their child and it addresses what would happen if they were to break up, among other areas, he said.

There weren't the hurdles that one might expect adopting from a politically conservative state, Thompson said.

"It was culturally interesting, but also eye-opening," Thompson, who lives with his family in San Francisco's Mission District, said. He said they encountered much more "acceptance and tolerance of us as a gay couple than we expected." He said the small town outside Knoxville where Lucas was born is "a deeply religious and deeply rural community," so they were "a little scared going there."

But when they got to the hospital, "We were just amazed at how gracious everyone was," Thompson said. The town was so small, though, he couldn't remember the name.

Although things have gone well for the couple, there's a sense that things could change in Tennessee.

Adoptions by same-sex couples aren't banned in Tennessee, Thompson said, although "apparently every year some conservative legislator tries to ban gay adoption."

Three years ago, California voters passed Proposition 8, making same-sex marriages illegal. Despite that, Leah Sheldon, a spokeswoman for Adoption Connection, said, "California has always been a pretty pro-LGBT state to adopt in."

She said her agency handles about 100 adoptions each year. About 15 to 20 of those are LGBT-related, she said.

Sheldon said it would be helpful if same-sex marriage became legal at the federal level, "because there are still states which make it difficult for adoptive families to adopt from."

She also said that international adoptions have become "really challenging" for LGBT families, leading to more people to seek children domestically.

Court grants stay blocking release of trial recordings

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is blocking release of Prop 8 trial video for now.

In their Monday, October 24 ruling granting the anti-gay filers' emergency motion for a stay pending appeal, the judges ordered both sides to submit principal briefs by November 14. Reply briefs are due no later than November 28.

The court will hear oral arguments the week of December 5, although an exact date hasn't been determined.

U.S. District Court Judge James Ware granted a motion in September to unseal the videotape of last year's historic trial on California's same-sex marriage ban. He'd also granted a stay, however.

Ted Boutrous, an attorney for the team challenging Prop 8 in the federal Perry v. Brown lawsuit, told Ware during oral arguments in August that releasing the videotapes would enable the public to "see and hear" why Ware's predecessor ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional. A lengthy, written transcript of the full proceeding has been available to the public for some time.

At the time of the Prop 8 trial, the 9th Circuit court was just beginning to roll out a new program to consider allowing for broadcast of trials and hearings. Judge Vaughn Walker, who presided over the Prop 8 trial, asked to allow broadcast of that trial as part of the new program. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in and said no.

David Thompson, an attorney for Yes on 8, said his legal team did not object to Walker's videotaping of the trial because of Walker's assurances that the video would be used only by him, in chambers, in preparation of his final decision in the case.

In August 2010, Walker ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional. The case could eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

HRC launches national marriage education project

The national Human Rights Campaign launched Americans for Marriage Equality, which will feature prominent Americans who support same-sex marriage.

The campaign, which started Wednesday, October 19, is expected to draw from professional athletes, film and music celebrities, political leaders, and others.

Special emphasis will be placed on Republicans, African Americans, Latinos, and elected officials. The campaign can be viewed at http://www.hrc.org/americansformarriageequality.

"Americans for Marriage Equality will help drive the national conversation on marriage equality at a critical time as the issue moves through the electoral, legislative, and judicial arenas," said outgoing HRC President Joe Solmonese, who recently announced his resignation. "It's critically important that we continue a conversation with Americans from all walks of life on this issue of fundamental equality."

HRC noted in a statement that anti-marriage equality efforts are on the 2012 ballot in North Carolina and Minnesota, and other electoral contests could emerge in Maine and Oregon. Battles are also going on in other states, including California, and there's an effort in Congress to repeal the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act.

Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker kicks off HRC's campaign. In a 30-second spot, he says he supports marriage equality because "from my earliest of ages I made a pledge that we will be a nation with liberty and justice for all. I support marriage equality because I believe in the 14th Amendment: 'equal protection under the law.' And, I support marriage equality because I support love and in this nation we need a lot more of it."

In California, there are supposed to be more local outreach efforts in the coming months. Equality California, which just saw the resignation of Executive Director Roland Palencia and is experiencing deep financial troubles, earlier this month announced a new public education campaign, the Breakthrough Conversation.

That project is intended to educate the state's residents about LGBT issues, including marriage.

Asked in an email if HRC would be assisting EQCA with their campaign at all, such as by contributing money, HRC spokesman Charles Joughin indicated they would not.

"Americans for Marriage Equality was born out of HRC's New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign, which launched in the fall of 2010," Joughin wrote in his response. "Our new initiative is national in scope and hopes to engage and educate Americans in all 50 states."

Wedding Bell Blues is an online column looking at various issues related to the marriage equality fight in California and elsewhere. Please send column ideas or tips to Seth Hemmelgarn at or call (415) 861-5019. Wedding Bell Blues appears every other Tuesday.






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