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August 15th, 2006 - Mo's Journal

August 15th, 2006

August 15th, 2006
06:48 am

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From faramir_boromir
How many metros and subways have you traveled on?

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I'm not very well traveled but I tend to use public transit when I go anywhere, so the number is high for someone who has never been to continental Europe, for example.

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TimeEvent
11:40 am

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Gay Parenting 101: Tools to Protect Gay and Lesbian Families, Part 2 - Civil Union, etc.
This will be the last of the posts on legal status of same sex parents. It’s a mostly depressing topic, but a complex one, which is why I couldn’t do it in one post.

Previously I talked about the first USAmerican legal tool that granted equal rights to both parents: second parent adoption. This post discusses some newer tools: civil union, domestic partnership, and the Massachusetts version of same sex marriage.


Civil Union
Vermont was one of the early states to be a battleground in the fight for marriage equality. The Vermont Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that the Vermont Constitution forbids denying the rights of marriage to same sex couples. Since it did not expressly forbid Vermont from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Vermont had the opportunity to meet the requirements of the Supreme Court decree without “debasing” marriage by letting queers into their restricted club. The legislature took that opportunity and passed a law creating a new form of partnership called “civil union” which went into effect in 2000. It is only for same sex couples and grants all the rights that the state gives to married couples, including equal parental rights for those couples who have children while in a civil union. Anyone can go to Vermont and have a civil union ceremony and get a certificate – you don’t need to be a resident. In order to dissolve a civil union, though, you need to be resident in Vermont for a period of 6 months. Connecticut recently passed a similar law.

What’s wrong with civil union?
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So, the legal picture for same sex parental rights is pretty bleak at the moment. What’s the answer? I have a few suggestions:

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Not all lesbian and gay parents are out by the time they have kids, and some try to maintain a level of closeted existence at least in some venues, even after the children are born. But it's very hard to hide the existence of a family, and as kids get older they need to talk about their families, too. In general, I think those who choose to bring children into gay or lesbian families are more out than your average same-sex couple, and all same-sex parents tend to become more out over time, even those who start out very closeted. I have hopes that even Jodie Foster will publicly acknowledge her kids have two mothers at some point!

I think that the more of us who have kids and are out as families, the more heterosexuals will get to know us in schools and community centers and playgrounds. And the more they will eventually realize that it’s fundamentally unfair to our children not to have the rights that their children take for granted. I do think that justice will prevail. I’m even optimistic enough to think it will happen in my life time.

Next up: Choosing a School That's Supportive of Gay Families

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