“I Was Raised By A Gay Couple And I’m Doing Pretty Well”

Zach Wahls was conceived using artificial insemination to his biological mother, Terry Wahls. He has a younger sister who shares the same sperm donor and parents. Terry met Jackie Reger in 1995 and the two held a commitment ceremony in 1996.

He has said that having lesbian parents caused occasional problems during his school years when he found it difficult to explain to his peers or found that some of them were forbidden to socialize with him. He was sometimes teased and sometimes bullied because of his parents’ relationship. In high school he wrote a series of columns for his high school newspaper about being raised by a lesbian couple.

While still a high school senior, following the Iowa Supreme Court decision in Varnum v. Brien that invalidated the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, he wrote an op-ed piece in the Des Moines Register in which he advocated a complete separation of marriage from civil unions, calling for legislation “to completely remove government from the marriage process altogether, leaving a religious ceremony to religious institutions, and mak[ing] civil unions, accessible by any two people, including those of the same sex, the norm for legal benefits.”

On January 31, 2011, Wahls addressed the Iowa House Judiciary Committee in a public hearing on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Iowa. The young man is an incredibly talented speaker and even if you disagree with his overall point, I think it is a valuable video to watch. You can find the video here.

For more information on Zach and his activism for LGBT rights, go here and here.

 

Zach Wahls and His Two Mothers

 

 

Texas Supreme Court Hears Same-Sex Divorce Cases

Last Friday, the Texas Supreme Court announced plans to hear two cases in which same-sex couples married in Massachusetts are seeking a divorce in Texas.  As of this time, Texas does not recognize gay marriage as a state.  As reported by the Austin-American Statesman:

The cases, involving couples from Austin and Dallas, will be the first test of Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage since the U.S. Supreme Court determined this summer that marriage laws can be unconstitutional if they relegate legally married same-sex couples to second-class status.

Oral argument will be Nov. 5, and a ruling isn’t expected for months afterward.

Attorney General Greg Abbott argues that Texas law not only limits marriage to opposite-sex couples, it forbids any action — including divorce — that recognizes or validates a same-sex marriage obtained out of state.

Lawyers for the couples, two Austin women and two Dallas men who were married in Massachusetts, say Abbott lacks the authority to intervene in their lives because divorce is a private matter that does not obligate Texas to recognize same-sex marriages performed in another state.

But if Texas can deny same-sex couples the right to divorce, then the state’s ban on gay marriage should be overturned, the couples argue.

In a legal climate in which the Supreme Court of the United States this summer overturned portions of DOMA, the repercussions of acknowledging or denying a divorce for a state where same-sex marriage is unrecognized will be widespread.  One aspect to be watched will be how children of same-sex couples will be addressed in regards to custody, visitation, and parents rights.  The state may be able to address the issue as they would unmarried straight co-parents, but the murky waters of this issue are yet to be resolved.  For the sake of children whose parents are going through a divorce, you hope the courts can delicately and deftly navigate the legal aspects involved.  It will be even more crucial that our judges and lawyers approach these discussions with compassion and support in the proceeding months.

Tuesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Poor state of juvenile justice in Assam, Zee News

Assam has reported the highest number of cases of juvenile delinquency in the Northeast consistently for the last few years, according to a human rights watch group.

The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) in its latest study report claimed that the state had recorded 405 such cases in 2011. The report noted that the administration of juvenile justice in Assam remained equally deplorable.

Illinois Senate to vote on same-sex marriage bill on Valentine’s Day, CNN

The Illinois Senate will vote Thursday — Valentine’s Day — on whether to legalize same-sex marriage.

Because Democrats have supermajority control of the General Assembly, the measure is expected to be approved. After the Senate vote, the measure would be considered by the House. If it is approved, Illinois would be the 10th state, plus the District of Columbia, to legalize same-sex marriage.

Ohio school’s officials to decide response to federal lawsuit challenging Jesus portrait, Fox News

A southern Ohio school board plans to decide Tuesday evening how to respond to a federal lawsuit seeking removal of a portrait of Jesus that has hung in its middle school for decades after being donated by a student group.

The lawsuit filed last week in U.S. district court on behalf on an unidentified student and two parents claims the large, prominently displayed portrait in the Jackson Middle School unconstitutionally promotes religion.

The Jackson City Schools board will hear from attorneys who have been looking into the issue for the district. Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for the Liberty Institute, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of public religious displays, said attorneys will present their findings and recommendations. He called the lawsuit “premature,” and school officials agreed.