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MCV – "Gay dads seek surrogacy rights" by Rachel Cook

January 28, 2009 Leave a comment

A proposal that seeks to align state and federal surrogacy laws has been released for public consultation and submissions.

The paper titled, A Proposal for a National Model to harmonise regulation of Surrogacy was released by the National Standing Committee of Attorney Generals (SCAG) and the ministerial councils for Community Services and Health. GLBT activists have welcomed the move.

Corey Irlam, spokesperson for the Australian Coalition for Equality told MCV:

“We are cautiously optimistic that this provides an opportunity for the states to become equal and to update their laws to access surrogacy.

“Surrogacy is a state-based issue and the federal government has said they will acknowledge any state based surrogacy laws,” Irlam said.

The paper makes several recommendations that would benefit same-sex and heterosexual couples.

If the recommendations were successful, both partners in a gay male couple would be recognised as parents of the child.

Currently in Victoria, the non-biological partner in a gay couple is not seen as a legal parent.

“Without the ability for the non-biological parent to adopt as a second parent, gay men who are entering into a surrogacy arrangement will be unable to both be seen as the legal parents of the child,” Irlam said.

“The Victorian Law Reform Commission recommended that adoption would be addressed and the government have not acted upon this.”

Currently, the non-biological parent in a gay male couple has to apply for a parenting order from the Family Court to have any legal parenting rights.

Co-moderator of Gay Dads Australia Rodney Cruise told MCV parenting orders give non-biological fathers most of the rights as a parent.

“He can apply for a passport for the child, enrol the child in school and make medical decisions. It’s still not a full parent situation, but it’s the closest thing we have in Victoria.”

Cruise said lesbian couples have long been accessing parenting orders and gay men are following in their footsteps.

“Gay dads are exercising the same process and have had success, there has been no problems getting them.”

However, Cruise warned that obtaining a parenting order is an expensive course of action.

“It involves lawyers and that can be a costly process, whereas the Holy Grail for gay dads is what’s called second parent adoption, which would allow the non-biological father to adopt their partner’s biological child and become a full parent.

“With second parent adoption you are a parent for life, unlike a parenting order which only lasts till the child is 18. So this impacts on inheritance and other issues too.”

In December 2008 the Assisted Reproductive Treatment (ART) Bill narrowly passed. Part of the legislative reform will secure the non-biological parent in a lesbian couple to now be recognised as a legal parent.

“There was a recognition that we had to get lesbian families over the line first,” Cruise said.

“Without that parliament would not have considered two men as parents.

“The next logical step is for the community and government to get their head around gay males.”

Federal Attorney-General Robert McClellend said the laws should make it easier for surrogacy couples.

“The differing laws on this complex and sensitive issue often force prospective parents to enter another Australian state or territory to have surrogate children.” McClellend said.

[Link: Original Article]

Relaxing Sunday Lunch at Lee & Tony’s Place (Blessington)

January 4, 2009 Leave a comment

Today the weather was perfect and the company equally so! Jeff, Ethan and I ventured to Lee and Tony’s home in St Kilda for a relaxing Sunday afternoon lunch and for some a swim. Doug & Brett together with the twins (Leah and Daniel), Jason and Ruben (unfortunately Adrian had to work), Lee & Tony together with Xan and Luci. We had a great time and the kids got on great. The highlight for me was seeing Luci and Leah on the bed together chatting and playing together like teenage girls! Cute and a wonderful sight. Ethan didn’t eat (as usual) but we all had a great time. Lee and Tony are always such generous hosts!

Southern Star – "Victorian Couples Recognised" by Andie Noonan

December 3, 2008 Leave a comment


After sharing eight years and one son together, Rodney Cruise and Jeff Chiang are finally an official couple in the eyes of  the law.

Cruise and Chiang were among the first couples to take advantage of the Victorian Relationships Register, which opened this week and will allow same-sex couples to formally register their unions.

With 23-month-old son Ethan in their arms, the pair registered at the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages on Monday, the register’s first day, with three other same-sex couples.

Victorian Parliament passed laws earlier this year to allow unmarried heterosexual and same-sex domestic partners to formalise their relationships with a registry scheme.

Registration will now provide conclusive proof of a domestic relationship under Victorian law.

The Victorian scheme mirrors those operating in the ACT and Tasmania .

Cruise told Southern Star it was an important step on the road to what he and his partner hope will be the right to marry.

Cruise said the two decided to formalise their union for both practical and symbolic reasons.

“If one of us died, I don’t want to be having to prove the person just buried is my partner to disbelieving public servants or banks or whoever,” he said.

“It’s really important knowing our family will be recorded in official government documents.

“The historic nature of it is that gay families are recognised for the first time. We are a recognised part of the community.”

Although there are no planned festivities, the couple celebrated their anniversary with a recent trip to Japan, and, more importantly for Ethan, a trip to Disneyland.

Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Rob Hulls launched the scheme, saying it was a significant day for those who cannot or don’t wish to marry, to have their relationship respected.

“This will make it easier for couples to access their rights under Victorian law and provide certainty to their legal obligations, without having to argue repeatedly that they are in a committed partnership or to have to prove this in court,” he said.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission CEO, Dr Helen Szoke welcomed couples to the first day of registration.

Registering couples need to be 18 years or older, live in Victoria and not be married or in another domestic relationship already registered in Victoria.

Registering a relationship will cost $180, with additional costs for a registration certificate.


MCV – "Couples Register their Love"

December 3, 2008 Leave a comment


Same-sex couples lined up to register their relationships at the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages on Monday.

The Brumby Government’s new Relationships Register was launched by Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Rob Hulls, who said it provided couples who did not want to marry or who were unable to do so with formal recognition of their committed relationship.

John Edie and his partner, Adam, were among those couples who registered their relationship on Monday.

“It’s wonderful that the state of Victoria is now recognising same-sex relationships, and it was exciting to be among the first couples at this morning’s launch,” Edie told MCV.

“Being a New Zealander, where we’ve had the Civil Union Bill for a number of years, it’s nice to see Australia starting to catch up, and this is an important step. I would encourage all those Victorian couples in committed relationships to show support for the Register, by going in and registering.”

[Link: Original Article]

Melbourne Leader – "Life’s Indian Givers" by Hamish Heard

October 1, 2008 Leave a comment

AN increasing number of homosexual Melbourne men are flying to India to save money on the cost of having babies, a gay parents’ organisation says.


Gay Dads Australia spokesman Rodney Cruise said gay Melburnians could save about $90,000 by using Indian surrogate mothers.


It is illegal for gay couples to have babies via surrogacy in Australia. But during the past seven years many have flown to the US or Canada where they pay about $120,000.


“Gay couples who previously wouldn’t have been able to have children because California is too expensive can take up the Indian option for basically a quarter of the cost,” Mr Cruise said.


“We’re seeing more and more couples take up the Indian option,” he said.


Mr Cruise said surrogacy cost only $30,000 in India.


Most of the money is paid to the surrogate, a woman who agrees to carry an embryo in her womb for the term of the pregnancy before giving birth and handing over the baby. Mr Cruise said couples could conceive using anonymous donor eggs or eggs donated by a relative or friend.


“Mostly it’s gestational, where the surrogate carries an embryo that has been created outside the womb. The surrogate rarely would use their own egg,” Mr Cruise said.


Until couples cottoned on to Indian surrogacy, only older, better-off couples could afford children.
“Generally people have been mortgaging their homes to fund this, and that’s fine for people who are in that position, but it can be heartbreaking for those without the resources to do so,” Mr Cruise said.
He said the “vast majority” of Australians using overseas surrogates were from Melbourne.


“There’s probably 40 couples that I know that have had children via surrogacy.” He said many gay couples had been inspired by a 2003 documentary called Man Made: Two Men and a Baby, about Tony Wood and Lee Matthews, a Melbourne couple who became one of the first Australia to produce a baby using an overseas surrogate.


“Maybe Melbourne is just a town where people settle down, or it could be the fact that the pioneering couples were from Melbourne and that’s had an effect of inspiring others around them,” Mr Cruise said.


[Link: Original Article ]

Melbourne Leader – "The Money that did Buy Happiness" by Hamish Heard

September 30, 2008 Leave a comment

Nearly two years ago the dream of parenthood became a reality for gay Richmond couple Rodney Cruise and Jeff Chiang.

Taking out a $120,000 mortgage on their home seemed a tiny price to pay for the birth of their son, Ethan Chiang-Cruise, who arrived in January last year.

It all started in 2005.

“Jeff and I had been together for about 5 years and we both desperately wanted to have a child”, Mr Cruise said.

After watching a documentary about one of the first gay Melbourne couples to parent a child using an overseas surrogate mother, the couple engaged a surrogacy agent in California.

The agent soon introduced the pair to Kelly, a woman from a small town in Ohio who agreed to carry an embryo fertilised using a donor egg and sperm from Mr Chiang or Mr Cruise.

“We immediately became very good friends with Kelly and three months after we met she had her first IVF cycle and got pregnant straight away,” Mr Cruise said.

Mr Chiang has an Asian background and the pair, not wanting to fight over who was the biological father, used two egg donors.

One egg was from a Caucasian donor and the other had an Asian background, ensuring the child would be Eurasian regardless of its biological father.

“We haven’t told anyone who the biological father is because that is something for Ethan to find out when he’s older,” Mr Cruise said.

Mr Cruise, 41, is a lawyer and Mr Chiang, 39, works in IT.

“It’s impossible to describe the joy and excitement of seeing Ethan grow from this little baby into a toddler and learning to speak and walk, ” Mr Cruise said.

“All parents have the same feeling.  He’s the apple of our eye,” he said.

Mr Cruise said the pair did not see their family structure as unusual.

“Things are changing and we know that Ethan is growing up in an environment that is not special., it’s just one of the varieties that exists.”

Stonnington Leader – "Offshore surrogacy hot topic at Prahran forum" by Kate Bruce-Rosser

September 30, 2008 Leave a comment

GAY men are looking to India to pursue the dream of parenthood, Gay Dads Victoria says.

A surrogacy forum in Prahran tonight will explain how the country is the “new growth region” for gay singles and couples seeking fatherhood through surrogacy.

But the Australian Family Association says surrogacy “flat out denies children basic human rights”.

Gay Dads spokesman Rodney Cruise said gay men had the same desire to be fathers as straight men.

Would-be fathers used to go to the US and Canada, where commercial surrogacy was legal but expensive, he said. Paid surrogacy is banned in Australia.

“The surrogacy industry in India is mature and well-regulated,” Mr Cruise said.

“The lower costs mean the option to create a family has opened up to a much larger number of gay men.”

Surrogacy costs about $120,000 in North America compared with $40,000 in India, he said.

The Australian Family Association opposed surrogacy, AFA researcher Tim Cannon said.

“We understand lots of people want to have children, including gay men, but we believe surrogacy flat out denies children basic human rights,” he said.

Surrogate children were deprived of knowing both biological parents, which could lead to identity crises, he said.

Mr Cruise and his partner, Jeff Chiang, have a 21-month-old son, Ethan, “the best thing I’ve ever done in my whole life”.

“Gay (couples) are capable of providing all the love required to raise children,” Mr Cruise said.

Mr Cannon said the AFA was also concerned about “exploited” Indian women who “rented out” their wombs.

Mr Cruise said this was “unfair” and “patronising”, assuming women in India were less capable than Western women of informed choices.

Indian women were screened to ensure they understood the nature of surrogacy, and only mothers could be surrogates, he said.

About 40 gay couples in Victoria have had surrogate children, and many of them in Stonnington, Mr Cruise said.

Forum inquiries: gaydadsaustralia.com.au

[Link: Original Article ]