[Australia] – Sydney Morning Herald – “Gay parents are more equal than others” by Adele Horin

December 29, 2010 Leave a comment

ALISON RUTHERFORD is a little surprised that so many women she meets complain about their husbands’ ineptness around the house.

It is not a problem she experiences with her same-sex partner, Dale Newman, who is the co-parent of three-year-old Rafael.

”There’s a female culture of husband bashing which is quite alien to me,” she said.

Same-sex parents, research shows, are significantly more egalitarian than heterosexual parents in the way they divide household tasks and parenting responsibilities.

With lesbian couples, the mother who carries the baby and breastfeeds it is not assumed to be the parent who will stay at home or be the main nurturer. In fact little can be assumed and everything must be negotiated when couples do not have gender roles to fall back on.

The findings, from the Work, Love and Play study which compared the experience of

317 same-sex parents – including 27 men – and 958 heterosexual parents, challenges the notion that biology is destiny.

”It is not uncommon for the biological capacity of mothers – childbearing, breastfeeding, nurturing – to be used as the rationale for women’s more limited participation in the workforce and their primary role as homemaker,” says Jennifer Power, of

La Trobe University, a co-author. But among lesbian couples, generally both women take on a mothering role, regardless of who gave birth, and both tend to take on the work role. In other cases, the women changed roles over time.

The study found that compared with heterosexual parents, both same-sex parents are much more likely to be working part time. Only 6 per cent of Australian couples with children under the age of 15 have neither parent working full time, compared with 23 per cent of lesbian couples.

Perhaps because of the extraordinary effort gay people must go to to have children, spending time with them is a big priority for both parents, the study found.

As a result, both partners tend to take responsibility for generating income and for all household tasks. ”Sharing roles means each partner develops empathy for what the other is doing,” said the study, published in The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy.

Dr Rutherford, 41, from the school of public health and community medicine at the University of NSW, and Ms Newman, 47, a freelance illustrator, have been together 11 years. The planning and making of Rafael took four years, Ms Newman said.

Though Dr Rutherford was the main breadwinner, she was the more determined to have children and is Rafael’s biological mother.

She took six months’ maternity leave before returning to work three days a week. Then Ms Newman, who works from home, did more of the parenting.

The decision to live on two part-time incomes until Rafael started school was fairly easy. ”We’re older parents, we’ll only have one child, and five years is not a huge chunk of our lives,” Dr Rutherford said.

While their closest friends are a heterosexual couple both of whom work part time, most parents of preschoolers they encounter are in more traditional relationships where women complain that their husbands do not do enough housework.

”I get jealous that the women don’t have to be breadwinners as well as mothers, so there’s always something to complain about,” Dr Rutherford said.

[Source: Original Article]

 

Categories: Uncategorized

[United Kingdom] – Huffington Post – “Elton John, David Furnish Have Son Via Surrogate”

December 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Finally, Elton John can call himself a father.

The pop rock superstar and his long-time husband, David Furnish, announced to Us Weekly that they have had a child via a surrogate mother in California. Their son, named Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John, was born on Christmas day, and weighed seven pounds and 15 ounces.

“We are overwhelmed with happiness and joy at this very special moment,” the new fathers told the magazine. “Zachary is healthy and doing really well, and we are very proud and happy parents.”

It’s been a long road for John and Furnish in their quest to be fathers; in 2009, they were denied the right to adopt an HIV-positive toddler from the Ukraine, due to John’s age and the country’s lack of recognition of civil unions rendering him single by their laws.

John said that he still planned to support the child and his brother financially, and now has a son of his own, too. And one with the name Levon, one of John’s many well-known songs.

[Source: Original Article]

Categories: surrogacy

[Australia – New South Wales] – The Australian – “Politicians refuse to act after churches win right to discriminate against gay foster parents”

December 28, 2010 Leave a comment

BOTH the NSW government and opposition have ruled out any changes to the state’s anti-discrimination laws in the wake of a ruling that charities could bar gay couples as foster carers on religious grounds.

In a decision that will open the way for other religious charities to refuse gay couples access to their services, the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal ruled that Wesley Mission’s foster care arm, Wesley Dalmar Services, had proved an exemption under the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act allowing it to discriminate against homosexual couples, reported The Australian.

Wesley Mission, part of the Uniting Church assembly, argued that providing foster care services to gay couples would put at risk its financial and volunteer assistance from members of the mission who adhered to the doctrine that a monogamous heterosexual partnership was “the norm and ideal of the family”.

The decision overturned a ruling that ordered Wesley Mission to take steps to eliminate unlawful discrimination after refusing services to a gay couple.

NSW’s Anti-Discrimination Act – along with similar acts in most states – provides a series of exemptions for religious bodies. The exemptions apply specifically to the ordination and training of priests and ministers.

However, an extremely broad, non-specific exemption also applies to “any act or practice” of a religious body that conforms to that body’s doctrines.

The Administrative Decisions Tribunal described the ability of a religious group to prove an exemption to the act as “singularly undemanding” and noted that “this may be a matter which calls for the attention of parliament”.

However, a spokesman for NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos said yesterday that the legislation struck the right balance between protection from discrimination and the right to religious freedom.

“It is not envisaged that there will be changes to the current exemptions in relation to religious institutions,” the spokesman said.

NSW Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell also ruled out yesterday any move to push for legislative change on the issue if the Liberals win government next March.

Religious exemptions to anti-discrimination laws are also being tested in Victoria in an appeal before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which must decide whether it was lawful for the Christian Brethren to refuse to allow a gay youth suicide prevention group accommodation at the Christian Youth Camps’ Phillip Island Adventure Resort.

NSW passed laws earlier this year that allowed gay couples to legally adopt children, but allowed church adoption agencies the right to refuse to provide services to gay couples without breaching anti-discrimination laws.

[Source: Original Article]

Categories: Foster Care

[Australia – New South Wales] – Sydney Morning Herald – “Gay foster care ban divides Uniting Church” by AAP

December 27, 2010 Leave a comment

The Uniting Church faces a split over a ruling that has allowed an affiliated charity to stop a gay couple from fostering children.

The couple began a legal battle seven years ago with Wesley Mission Australia, which refused to allow them to become foster parents.

In a landmark decision earlier this month, the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal found in favour of Wesley Mission, which is part of the Uniting Church.

But a spokesman for the church said its members would be split by the decision.

“From the liberal point of view, there will be parts of the church that will be disappointed with this decision,” he told AAP.

“Generally though, the more conservative side of the church will be happy with the decision.”

Uniting Care Burnside is a social justice service that’s also part of the Uniting Church and places foster children in safe homes.

It has a non-discriminatory policy when it comes to placing children in foster care, as does the Department of Community Services (DoCS).

“Community Service foster carers can be single, married, in a de facto or same-sex relationship,” DoCs said in a statement on Monday.

When the tribunal handed down its decision on the recent case, it cited the very broad exemptions in the Anti-Discrimination Act relating to religious groups and suggested parliament consider revising it.

But NSW Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell said there was no need to review the laws as the same-sex adoption bill had been passed in September.

He said “faith-based” services were not the only option for those looking to adopt.

“But because there is choice, because if you’re a same-sex couple you can … seek to adopt a child, I don’t think it’s a big concern,” he told reporters in Sydney.

The case involving Wesley Mission dates back to 2002 when the gay couple lodged a complaint under the Anti-Discrimination Act after an agency refused to allow them to foster a child.

The tribunal initially found in favour of the men in 2007 and awarded them $5,000 each.

But Wesley Mission appealed and a review panel overturned the decision, ruling the tribunal had erred in deciding the mission didn’t have a right to discriminate on religious grounds.

The panel sent the case back to the tribunal, which decided in favour of the Wesley Mission and dismissed the complaint of discrimination.

[Source: Original Article]

 

Categories: Foster Care

[Australian – New South Wales] – NineMSN – “No need to change foster laws: O’Farrell”

December 27, 2010 Leave a comment

 

Gay couples are able to legally adopt children in NSW so there’s no need to review NSW’s anti-discrimination laws, says Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell.

His comments follow a ruling in favour of a religious organisation which refused to foster children to same-sex parents.

The NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal earlier this month found in favour of Wesley Mission Australia, which wouldn’t allow a gay couple to become foster parents.

But the tribunal suggested parliament may wish to review the Anti-Discrimination Act, which it based its decision on.

Mr O’Farrell on Monday said there was no need to review the laws as the same-sex adoption bill had been passed in September.

“The concern with this decision would have been if the only adoption services in NSW were faith-based,” Mr O’Farrell told AAP on Monday.

“But because there is choice, because if you’re a same-sex couple you can … seek to adopt a child, I don’t think it’s a big concern.”

Under the new adoption legislation, church adoption agencies were granted the right to refuse to provide services to gay and lesbian couples without breaching anti-discrimination laws.

[Source: Original Article]

 

Categories: Foster Care

[Australia – New South Wales] – Sydney Morning Herald – “Gays can still foster kids, DoCS says” by AAP

December 27, 2010 Leave a comment

 

A NSW government department says there are plenty of opportunities for same sex couples to foster children, despite a recent ruling allowing religious charities to ban gays from becoming foster parents.

A gay couple began a legal battle seven years ago with Wesley Mission Australia, which refused to allow them to become foster parents.

However, the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal found in favour of the Wesley Mission earlier this month.

The tribunal found that the mission was exempt from the NSW Anti Discrimination Act on religious grounds.

But a statement from the Department of Community Services (DoCS) should g]ve the gay couple hope, as it makes clear that the department accepts gay couples as foster parents.

“Community Service foster carers can be single, married in a de facto or same sex relationship,” the statement read.

DoCS puts its emphasis on the need for foster carers to provide “a safe, nurturing and secure family environment” and states that anyone in good physical and emotional health can apply to become a foster carer.

The case involving the Wesley Mission dates back to 2002 when the two gay men lodged a complaint under the Anti Discrimination Act after an agency operated by the mission refused to allow them to foster a child.

The Administrative Decisions Tribunal initially found in favour of the men in 2007 and awarded them $5,000 each.

But the Wesley Mission appealed and a review panel overturned the decision, ruling that the tribunal had erred in deciding the mission did not have a right to discriminate on religious grounds.

The panel sent the case back to the tribunal, which decided earlier this month in favour of the Wesley Mission, and dismissed the complaint of discrimination.

An affidavit supplied to the tribunal by the Wesley Mission, which follows the Methodist doctrines of the 18th-century preacher John Wesley, says: “The Methodist doctrine is based on the belief that God’s pattern for family relationships includes a union between a man and a woman.

“For Wesley Mission to appoint homosexual couples as foster carers would be fundamentally unacceptable to the Methodist doctrine and would be viewed as an abdication of its responsibility to uphold the word of God as understood by Methodism.”

The Wesley Mission is a parish of the Uniting Church, but the church allows its parishes to make their own decisions on matters involving homosexuality.

[Source: Original Article]

 

Categories: Foster Care

[Australia – New South Wales] – The Daily Telegraph – “Church free to ban gay foster parents” by Joe Hilderbrand

December 27, 2010 Leave a comment

 

Cardinal George Pell

CHURCH groups are free to discriminate against homosexuals after a landmark judgment in which a tribunal ruled religious charities are allowed to ban gay foster parents.

The ruling, made in the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal, has been hailed by the Catholic Church but has outraged civil libertarians, who are demanding religions no longer be exempt from anti-discrimination laws if they receive public money, reported The Daily Telegraph.

The Council of Civil Liberties suggested more children might end up in orphanages because church-based service providers could now knock back couples who did not conform to their beliefs.

Even the tribunal itself, whose judgment came down in favour of the ban, said it was effectively bound to reach the decision because of the very broad exemptions in the Anti-Discrimination Act relating to religious groups.

And, it went as far as suggesting that Parliament may wish to revise those laws.

The decision marks the end of a seven-year legal battle for a gay couple who attempted to become foster carers through Wesley Mission Australia but were knocked back because their lifestyle was not in keeping with the beliefs and values of Wesleyanism, a Methodist order of the Uniting Church.

The ADT initially awarded the couple $10,000 and ordered the charity to change its practices so it did not discriminate but an appeals panel set aside that decision and ordered the tribunal to reconsider the matter.

The tribunal then said it had little choice but to find that the discrimination was “in conformity” with the church’s doctrine because the test in the law “is singularly undemanding”.

Council of Civil Liberties president Cameron Murphy said churches who received taxpayers money to provide services for the state -as was increasingly the case -should no longer be exempt from discrimination laws.

“It’s outrageous,” he said. “If a non-religious organisation tried to do this they would be in breach of the law.

“If they want to run a foster care agency they ought to be looking after the best interests of the child, not trying to push their religion on the community.

Cardinal George Pell welcomed the decision and said churches must be able to choose who they wanted to use in the provision of services.

Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann said it was high time groups were no longer able to discriminate for religious reasons. 

A spokesman for Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell said if the matter came before Parliament the Liberal Party would allow a conscience vote.

[Source: Original Article]

 

Categories: Foster Care