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Domestic Partnership News Archive
February 06 - February 13, 2002

 

 

 
 

This page contains news for the period February 07, 2002 through February 13, 2002.

 

 

 

<<   February 2002  >>

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Wednesday, February 13, 2002

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Delaware family court commissioner considers domestic partner as parent in child support case


A story released today by the Associated Press reports that a Delaware family court commissioner has ruled that lesbian being sued by her former partner for child support should be considered a parent even though she and the boy have no biological connection.

Family Court Commissioner John Carrow said that both women should be considered mothers to the 4-year-old boy they chose to have through in-vitro fertilization. He ordered both women to attend a child support hearing at a later date.

"It's definitely a leap," said attorney Joel Tenenbaum, chairman-elect of the American Bar Association's family law section. "It absolutely expands the definition of a parent."

There have been at least four similar cases fought in California, Pennsylvania and Washington state.

Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, said that a key issue is whether both parents consented to the creation of the child. When a married couple uses artificial insemination, there is an automatic presumption that the husband is the father, he said.

In two cases in Pennsylvania during the last year, courts ordered non-biological mothers to pay child support because they had consented to their child's creation, Minter said.

In Washington state, a trial court ruled that the former partner of a biological mother was not a parent and did not have to continue to pay child support. An appeals court agreed the former partner was not liable and found that the only people required to support a child as a parent are those who are biologically related to a child or who adopt a child.

The California case is still pending.

Before the decision, if a homosexual couple raising children together in Delaware split up, only the person with custody had legal responsibility for supporting the children.

"It's another step toward the day when those children of gay couples have the same legal protections as children whose parents are heterosexual," Minter said.

Nationally, about 14 million children have homosexual parents, according to a book on same-sex parenting cited by Carrow in his ruling.

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

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British lawmaker drops civil partnership bill

A story released today by the RainbowNetwork.com reports that British lawmaker, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lester of Herne Hill announced today that he would not proceed with his Civil Partnership Bill, which he introduced in January as a Private Member’s Bill.

He said in a statement that he will press for a Select Committee to consider the Bill and take further evidence in November this year.

"I am enormously grateful for those who have expressed support for the Bill. There has been a very constructive public discussion that was reflected in the House of Lords debate. I am also encouraged by the work that the government is now undertaking, led by Barbara Roche and her team at the Cabinet Office, who are looking in detail at all the issues." said Lester.

"I want to build on that support and take my proposals for civil partnerships registration forward in the most helpful way possible. I believe that the most appropriate way forward would be for a broad-based Select Committee of the House of Lords to have the opportunity of looking widely at all the issues, both of principle and detail. Such a committee could also consider the work the government is now undertaking which I understand is likely to be completed by the autumn." added Lester.

Angela Mason, executive director of Stonewall, who are campaigning for a Civil Partnership Bill, said: "We have always recognized that the introduction of civil partnership registration will take a lot of discussion and detailed consideration of all the issues. We believe that Lord Lester’s proposal is a helpful way of moving forward and again we pay tribute to the work he has done in so effectively putting the case for civil partnerships in the public domain."

Speaking in support of the principles of civil partnership, leader of the Liberal Democrats Charles Kennedy said: "Anthony Lester has done a wonderful job in promoting the Civil Partnership Bill and the cause of equality. I know that his Bill received widespread support and I am delighted that he is to push for it to be considered by a Select Committee in the future. The Liberal Democrats support this Bill and I wish it every success in the future."

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Connecticut lawmakers tackle bills on same-sex civil unions and marriages


A story released today by CNSNews.com reports that the cultural and political battle over same sex unions will now be fought in Connecticut with the introduction of two bills, one that would allow homosexuals the unprecedented right to marry one another.

The legislation has been introduced in the state House Judiciary Committee. The second bill would mirror a Vermont law and allow residents to enter into same-sex civil unions with many of the benefits and protections that are granted to spouses in traditional marriages, but it would stop short of allowing marriage between homosexuals.

Should either of the bills pass the Connecticut General Assembly, they would end up on the desk of Republican Gov. John Rowland.

Connecticut State Representative Michael P. Lawler said he believes Connecticut will implement some sort of legislation to provide rights for homosexuals.

"My sense is that we can probably pass something in the committee and in the Legislature as a whole that provides a list of rules that would apply to same-sex couples," Lawler said.

Legislation allowing civil unions, however, has a better chance of passing, Lawler said. "There is probably a 50-50 chance of passing a civil union bill as Vermont did. I don't think the votes are there to amend the marriage statute this year, but clearly the momentum is moving in the direction of acknowledging and providing rules to deal with same-sex couples," Lawler said.

"It is a very non-partisan issue. Democrats and Republicans are probably divided along the same lines. In Connecticut, at least, the ranking member of our [Judiciary] committee [Rep. Robert Farr] is Republican and he supports civil unions. I would have to say it is pretty bi-partisan," Lawler said. "Connecticut has been in the vanguard of states that have acknowledged legitimate rights of gays and lesbians over the past 15 years and I don't think this is any different."

Monday, February 11, 2002

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A nontraditional family is still a family in every sense of the word

A story published today by the San Francisco Examiner reports that Tom Grissinger has four children with four different women, which isn't really odd unless you consider the fact that Grissinger is gay and the mothers of his children are lesbians.

Through the help of Rainbow Flag Health Services and Sperm Bank, Grissinger was able to achieve a lifelong dream of having children.

"No one in the family imagined that their gay son would have four kids," Grissinger said.

But in 1995, Grissinger saw an ad from Rainbow Flag seeking gay sperm donors to become "uncles" to lesbian couples. Unlike other sperm banks, which offer anonymous donors or provide donor information once the child turns 18, Rainbow gives immediate information and encourages the biological father to participate in the child's life.

The donor has no legal or financial responsibilities, and there are no formal rules to the relationship other than the women who use the service agree to contact the donor within a year of the child's birth. The rest is up to the parents.

After discussing the options with his longtime partner, Skip Searcy, Grissinger decided Rainbow was the way to go.

Seven years later, he has two daughters in the Bay Area, one in New York and a son in Washington state.

"For me, it was an instant comfort," Grissinger said from his San Jose home, which is filled with photos of his children. "They know what gay people are like and there is less fear of rejection."

The feeling is mutual for Rebecca McDonald and her partner, Valerie Venezia, who are the parents of Grissinger's biological daughter, Ava.

While the fact that a gay donor played a role in their decision to choose the sperm bank, the deciding factor was the identity release program.

Only 2 and halfway across the country in New York, Ava has met all sides of her family, including all three sets of grandparents. They are planning a visit to California again in June to see Grissinger and Searcy.

While each relationship is different with each of his biological children's parents, Grissinger couldn't picture life without his kids.

That's why he flew out to speak to the FDA in December about its proposed regulations, which would ban gay men from donating sperm.

"I just can't imagine someone telling me, 'You can't have children this way,' " he said.

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Domestic partner benefits granted to South African soldiers

 

A story released today by the Daily Mail & Guardian reports that domestic partners of members of the South African National Defense Force are set to receive all spousal benefits following publication of new definitions of "marital status" and "spouse" in the Government Gazette, reported Jan. 11.

For military purposes, "spouse" is now defined as "a partner (the partnership being either heterosexual or homosexual) in a permanent life partnership, if such partnership was attested before a notary public."

Friday, February 8, 2002

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Palm Beach county sheriff stands firm on domestic partner benefits policy

A story published today by the Palm Beach Post reports that Palm Beach County Sheriff Ed Bieluch on Thursday defended insurance benefits he extended to unmarried or gay partners of employees, saying it was an issue of fairness.

Two women questioned Bieluch on his new policy during a public meeting in suburban Delray Beach. One woman said it sends a message of immorality.

"Do you think these relationships will go away if we withdraw these benefits?" Bieluch responded. "It's not going to suddenly make a whole bunch of people go out and become gay."

So far, 16 sheriff employees have signed up for health coverage for their domestic partners, costing the sheriff's office about $36,000 in premiums, sheriff's officials said.

 

 

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