Tag Archives: lesbian moms

Sotomayor answers letter from girl with lesbian moms

A U.S. Supreme Court justice has responded to a North Carolina 11-year-old’s request for a court ruling helping her same-sex parents.

The Wilson Times (http://bit.ly/10uEoyk ) reports the return letter from Justice Sonia Sotomayor doesn’t comment on any upcoming court cases, but encourages sixth-grader Cameron Myers Milne of Wilson to keep dreaming big.

Cameron wants the court to invalidate the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which Bill Clinton signed in 1996 but now maintains is unconstitutional.

The child wrote to all nine Supreme Court justices after watching President Barack Obama’s January inauguration with her lesbian parents, who were married in New York.

Her letter said: “My name is Cameron. I  am eleven years old and I am currently in the 6th grade. I am the daughter of Susan and Sheila. I watched President Obama’s inauguration speech today and my parents pointed you out to me. They informed me that although President Obama is leading the fight for my parents to be treated equally, you and the other justices will be making very important decisions in the next few months. I know you are busy, but I hope you have time to read this letter.

“My parents have been together for 26 years. They took me to New York on their 25th anniversary so that they could be legally married. I was so happy for them. They are the best parents a kid could ask for and I love them so much. I would like to see their marriage recognized here in our home state. Please look at our photos and think of us when you make decisions based on gay rights. We are a family. I am very proud of my parents and I hope you understand how your decision will affect my family.

“If you have any concerns about the welfare of kids of gay parents, I can tell you that I am doing great.  I am so loved. Everyone I know tells me I am such a lucky kid. My parents are my life. They quiz me before tests and make sure that I am doing well in school. I  was the top student in my class last year and have made Headmaster’s List every 6 weeks. I play travel soccer and I am currently trying out for the Olympic Development Program which means they dedicate most of their weekends to traveling all over the state so that I can compete against other teams. I also play tennis. A couple of years ago I collected 200 soccer balls and sent them to Liberia for kids who do not have soccer balls. I have many good friends who love my parents. I have never been teased. I think things are going very well. Thank you for your time.”

Sotomayor replied, sending a signed photograph and writing, “I know dreams can come true when you work hard to achieve them. I wish you the joy of dreaming big, working hard and succeeding in all that you do.”

The justice also informed Cameron that she can’t comment on issues that might come before the court.

“I encourage you, however, to continue to think about the many import issues that impact our society,” Sotomayor’s letter stated.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments later this month in a case challenging the federal law, which denies legally married gay and lesbian couples tax, Social Security and other federal benefits available to heterosexual married couples.

The court also will hear oral arguments on a challenge to California’s anti-gay constitutional amendment.

Agreement for gay sperm donor, lesbian moms

When Massimiliano Gerina donated his sperm to a lesbian couple nearly three years ago, the gay hair dresser wanted to be a father, not just a donor. Several months into his friend’s pregnancy, though, he claims the couple tried to force him out, leading to a lengthy court battle.

After years of heartbreak and distrust and tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, the couple approached Gerina with an agreement last week. Three names would appear on Emma’s birth certificate, and Maria Italiano and her partner, Cher Filippazzo, were given sole parental responsibility, which means they get to make decisions about Emma’s health and well-being, according to their attorneys.

Gerina missed Emma’s birth and her first words, but now he gets weekly visits with his daughter, who is almost 2. 

“We created this family that is very unusual,” Gerina said. “Love doesn’t have sex or color. If you have love to give to a child, please just do it.”

Gerina, a 35-year-old stylist who cuts hair at a trendy salon, moved to Miami in 2005 from Italy. He said he always wanted to be a father, but worried it wouldn’t happen because he was gay. And he said he didn’t have a relationship with his own father.

He became friends with the couple after a few years of styling Italiano’s hair.  When she and Filippazzo approached him in 2010 about donating sperm and being a father, it seemed ideal, Gerina said.

“We went in always with the intention that Emma is going to know who her dad is … we wanted him to have a role in her life but not as a parent,” Filippazzo, 38, said.

The women, who were married in Connecticut, had spent thousands of dollars trying to get pregnant through in-vitro fertilization, but it never took. So the trio worked out the arrangement at a pizzeria and a few weeks later Italiano, 43, was pregnant.

“I never took this lightly. I knew that there was going to be money involved, time, emotions … and I was ready for it,” Gerina said, sitting in an outdoor cafe in front of the salon where he works.

Gerina was on the phone with the couple almost daily. He went to the ultrasound and friends threw him a baby shower. Everything seemed fine.

But seven months into the pregnancy, Gerina said the couple asked him to sign legal documents that essentially gave away his rights.

“Of course, I was hurt,” he said.

He hired a lawyer, who drew up legal papers describing the situation he thought had agreed to, but he said the women refused to sign it. In the meantime, he sued the couple and got a tattoo in honor of Emma on his arm.

Then, a few weeks before the trial, he said Filippazzo called him and said she only cared about doing what was right for her daughter.

“Emma needs you and you need Emma,” he recalled Filippazzo saying. “I want her to know that we came out between us with an agreement. I don’t want a judge, a stranger, to decide.”

A judge signed off on the arrangement on Jan. 31. In two years, the couple will consider letting Gerina have overnight visits with Emma.

Steve Majors, spokesman for the Family Equality Council in Massachusetts, said there weren’t any national statistics on couples who decide to co-parent, but he said the Florida case was significant.

“The fact that we have a dad who is playing a role in the upbringing of a child and being recognized on a birth certificate is very important because it speaks to the larger problem of many couples out there who do not have legal ties to their own children,” said Majors, whose group advocates on behalf of same-sex families.

Gerina’s attorney, Karyn Begin, said the three will navigate their future on their own terms.

“What’s important right now is that we have conditions that exist for this family to be together and only time will tell how it plays out for them,” Begin said.

For now, the three are busy planning Emma’s second birthday. They need to find a bounce house and decide whether to have an Elmo or Dora the Explorer cake, Gerina said.

“I love Massimo,” Filippazzo said tearfully, referring to Gerina. “I think he needed to feel that I love and appreciate him and that we could forgive and go forward.”

Judge orders Iowa to issue accurate death certificate to lesbian moms

An Iowa court on Dec. 17 ordered the state health department to issue lesbian moms Jenny and Jessica Buntemeyer an accurate death certificate for their son, who was stillborn in October 2011.

The case was brought to the court by Lambda Legal, a national LGBT civil liberties group.

Lambda, in a post on its website, said the Buntemeyers will finally get the justice they sought after the health department erased Jenny Buntemeyer’s name from the original certificate because it did not recognize both female parents.

Same-sex couples in Iowa can legally marry, and the district judge in the case, Robert A. Hutchison, referred to civil marriage rights in his decision. He wrote, “Both partners in a same-sex relationship can also qualify as parents, at least in the ordinary and common sense. See Varnum, 763 N.W.2d at 899–901. Therefore, a mother’s wife is a female parent.”

Responding, Lambda Legal marriage project director Camilla Taylor said, “The court affirmed what should have been clear to the Iowa Department of Public Health … that a child born to a married couple has two parents, regardless of whether the spouses are same-sex or different-sex. Vital records document legal parentage, not biology. In this case, the state was not only denying that Jenny and Jessica are both mothers, it was trying to erase Jenny from the family. A death certificate for Brayden is their sole legal record of his existence and his significance to their family.”

Lesbian mom accuses Christian right activists of racketeering, kidnaping

A Vermont woman says the ex-partner who took their daughter and fled to Nicaragua and the Christian-right activists who aided her are guilty of racketeering and kidnapping.

Janet Jenkins’ lawsuit, filed in August in the U.S. District Court for Vermont, alleges civil rights abuses, conspiracy, money-laundering, kidnapping, mail fraud and violations under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The act, commonly known as RICO, has been used to go after mobsters, motorcycle gangs, business magnates, anti-abortion activists and, most recently, a Texas health care provider.

The defendants in the suit include Jenkins’ ex, Lisa Miller, as well as pastor Kenneth Miller, Nicaragua resident and pastor Timothy Miller, Virginia pastor Doug Wright, Ohio resident Andrew Yoder, Virginia residents Philip Zodhiates, Victory Hyden Zodhiates and Linda Wall, Christian AID Ministries, Response Unlimited, Liberty University School of Law and Thomas Road Baptist Church.

In a criminal trial in August, a Vermont jury found Kenneth Miller guilty of aiding an international parental kidnapping in the Jenkins-Miller case. The government proved that Kenneth Miller helped Lisa Miller, no relation, take Isabella Ruth Miller-Jenkins, now 10, from the United States to Nicaragua, where the United States has no extradition treaty. The mother and daughter are believed to be living in that country, sheltered by the Nicaragua Beachy Amish-Mennonite Christian Brethren.

The same day the jury convicted Kenneth Miller, Janet Jenkins of Fair Haven, Vt., filed her civil complaint.

Isabella Miller-Jenkins was born in 2002, when Jenkins and Miller were in a civil union in Vermont. When the child was 17-months-old, Miller took her to Virginia and filed a petition in Rutland, Vt., family court to dissolve the civil union.

Jenkins’ suit says courts in both Virginia and Vermont still recognize that Rutland family court has “exclusive jurisdiction over custody determinations regarding Isabella Miller-Jenkins, that she has a right to a relationship with both of her parents, and that it is in her best interests to have contact with both of her parents on a schedule ordered by the Court.”

Miller, at the time she was dissolving the union, was getting involved in Christian fundamentalism and joined the Keystone Baptist Church in Winchester, Va. She became friends with Wright and began to deny the court-ordered contact between Jenkins and Isabella.

As early as 2004, Miller was being cited for contempt in Vermont courts for violating the custody arrangement.

The refusal to allow Jenkins visitation with their daughter intensified when Miller moved to Lynchburg, Va., joined the Thomas Road Baptist Church, began working for the Liberty Christian Academy elementary school and was associating with anti-gay activists in the Liberty community fostered by the late evangelist Jerry Farwell Sr., an architect of the anti-gay rights movement.

In 2009, a Vermont court awarded Jenkins full custody, but she says she’s only seen her daughter twice since 2008. And Isabella Miller-Jenkins has been listed as missing by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children since Jan. 1, 2010.

Jenkins, in the civil suit, says that’s because a network of anti-gay, Christian right activists helped Miller flee the United States with her daughter and the organized network continues to shield Miller in Nicaragua.

Jenkins says Lisa Miller fled the United States in September 2009, carrying out a plan concocted with Christian right activists throughout the summer of 2009 and possibly discussed as early as June 2008. That’s when allies associated with Liberty and Thomas Road Baptist Church helped establish The Protect Isabella Coalition. Jerry Falwell Jr., who succeeded his father as chancellor of Liberty University, donated substantial sums to the coalition, according to Jenkins’ suit.

The flight from the U.S. took place on Sept. 22, 2009, when “Lisa Miller and Isabella were transported, in disguise as Amish-Mennonites, to the Canadian border by Philip Zodhiates and at least one other Response Unlimited, Inc. employee. Lisa Miller and Isabella crossed the border at the Rainbow Bridge in a taxi in the early morning hours of September 22, 2009.” From there, aided by Zodhiates and Kenneth Miller, the two flew to Mexico, then El Salvador and then met Timothy Miller, no relation, in Nicaragua.

Lisa Miller’s attorneys at Liberty Counsel have maintained they were unaware of her plans to flee the country, but phone records show calls from Zodhiates to Liberty Counsel numbers on Sept. 22, 2009.

Two months later, in November 2009, according to Jenkins’ suit, elders of the Thomas Road Baptist Church packed up the personal belongings of Lisa Miller in two bags. These bags were picked up from Lynchburg, Va., by Philip Zodhiates, who arranged to have the bags transported to Nicaragua and delivered at the airport to Timothy Miller.

On Nov. 20, 2009, with Lisa Miller and Isabella in Nicaragua, the Rutland, Vt., Family Court issued its order that “legal and physical parental rights and responsibilities for Isabella are to be transferred to plaintiff Janet Jenkins.”

Lisa Miller’s allies at Liberty described the defiance of the court order as Christian civil disobedience and have continued to collect money for her through the Friends of Lisa Miller campaign.

Zach Wahls speaks at DNC about 2 moms, marriage equality

The following is the prepared text of Iowan Zach Wahls’ speech to the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 6:

I’m a sixth-generation Iowan, an Eagle Scout, and I was raised by my two moms, Jackie and Terry.

People want to know what it’s like having lesbian parents. I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m awesome at putting the seat down. Otherwise, we’re like any other family. We eat dinner, we go to church, we have chores. But some people don’t see it that way. When I was 12, watching the 2004 Republican convention, I remember politicians talking about protecting marriage from families like mine. 

Now, supporting a view of marriage as between a man and woman isn’t radical. For many people, it’s a matter of faith. We respect that. Watching that convention on TV, though I felt confused, frustrated. Why didn’t they think my family was a real family?

Governor Romney says he’s against same-sex marriage because every child deserves a mother and a father. I think every child deserves a family as loving and committed as mine. Because the sense of family comes from the commitment we make to each other to work through the hard times so we can enjoy the good ones. It comes from the love that binds us; that’s what makes a family. Mr. Romney, my family is just as real as yours.

President Obama understands that. He supports my moms’ marriage. President Obama put his political future on the line to do what was right. Without his leadership, we wouldn’t be here. President Obama is fighting for our families… all of our families. He has our backs. We have his.

Modern family: Lesbian couple planning birthdays of two sets of twins

Same-sex couple Laura Cavin and Sheri Green each conceived twins from the same set of eggs and anonymous donor sperm through in vitro fertilization.

All four children – Brianna, Derrick, Anthony and Cason – were conceived on the same day and technically are quadruplets, even though the two sets of children were born two weeks apart.

The women, wanting to have children, are patients of Dr. Craig Sweet, a reproductive endocrinologist and medical director of Specialists in Reproductive Medicine and Surgery in Fort Myers, Fla.

At the time, Green was almost 35 and Cavin was 24.

They decided Green, who wanted biological children, would provide her eggs and Cavin, who wanted to experience pregnancy, would carry the child.

Though Cavin conceived identical twins from the transfer of a single embryo that split, the first attempt ended at 24 weeks gestation because of a rare condition of twin-to-twin transfusion, where one twin was not getting enough blood while the other was getting too much.

The couple went back to Sweet, who was born in Milwaukee and grew up in Shorewood, Wis., to try another time.

Again, Green produced an abundance of eggs and high quality embryos, according to Sweet, who said a decision was made that each woman would carry two embryos.

“The chance that all four transferred embryos would implant and grow was less than 2 percent, so we were all amazed when the improbable occurred,” Sweet said.

Cavin delivered Briana and Derek on May 9, 2011, and Green gave birth to Anthony and Cason on May 23, 2011.

Sweet said, “They are a family connected through genetics, reproductive medicine and the love these two women share with each other – an amazing modern family.”


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Iowa court orders birth certificate naming 2 moms

The Polk County, Iowa, District Court on Jan. 5 ordered the state health department to issue a birth certificate listing two women as the parents of their 2-year-old child.

The women had married under Iowa law and had their daughter in 2009, but the health department refused to list both the lesbian moms on the birth certificate.

Judge Eliza Ovrom, in the ruling, wrote that there “is a strong indication that the (Iowa) Supreme Court intended married same-sex couples to have legal recognition that their children are legitimate and entitled to the support of both parents. The Department’s refusal to place (the child’s) name on the birth certificate frustrates the purpose of the law to recognize the legitimacy of a child born to a marriage, and to establish the parents’ obligation to support the child.”

Lambda Legal attorney Camilla Taylor, who represented the women, said, “An accurate birth certificate is essential for a child’s physical, financial and emotional security.”

Private Anglican school rejects daughter of lesbian parents

According to a report by CNN, 4-year-old Olivia Harrison has been denied admission to St. Vincent’s School, an Anglican church in the Dallas suburb of Bedford, TX. 

One of the girl’s mothers, Tracy Harrison said they had picked the school not only for its academic standards, but also because they she would learn, “basic Bible teachings … follow the Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments, be kind to your neighbor.”

“St. Vincent’s School as a ministry of (the) Cathedral upholds the clear teaching of the Christian faith, the Holy Bible, and the Anglican Church in North America,” school dean Rev. Ryan Reed said in an email to CNN sister network HLN. “We based our decisions about enrollment on what is best for the children of St. Vincent’s as a whole and in conformity with the above standards.”

The moms say they were upfront with the school, replacing the word “father” with “partner” on the enrollment forms before filling it out with both women’s names. There wasn’t a problem until after the couple attended a parents’ night at the school.

This isn’t the first time has rejected potential students, said Reed. St. Vincent has turned away a preschool appliacnt from a gay household, fired a teacher who became pregnant out of wedlock and removed a man “from leadership roles in the school” after he left his wife for another woman, according to CNN.

Both Harrison and the girl’s other mother, Jill Harrison, are fine with the admission rejection. “I absolutely would not want her to partake in a school where they did not believe or condone the relationship that we have together,” Jill Harrison said. Tracy Harrison commented, “The God that I know and the God that I love will love me and love my children no matter what.”

Read full article here: Texas school rejects 4-year-old over lesbian parents.