I am eleven years old and I have two mums and a brother, I see both my mothers as equal parents and think it is unfair that our family is not treated the same way as my friends who have straight parents.

Phoebe

Don’t forget, we need you to visit your Queensland state MP. The previous post tells you how to do it.


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I am writing in relation to the release of the Queensland Government’s position papers titled, Queensland Government model for the decriminalisation of altruistic surrogacy and transfer of legal parentage and Review of the legal status of children being cared for by same-sex parents, dated August 2009.

I agree with the reforms proposed in these papers and believe they will have a significant, positive impact on many Queensland families without detracting from the existing rights of other families. I do not believe inclusion of more and differing family structures into the concept of a legal family lessens the definition of one.

My niece who turns 4 in February is being raised by two of the most caring parents I know of. They put her needs first, and she is growing into the most generous and smart person. As my sister carried her daughter she has parental rights. But my sister’s partner would not have the same legal rights as a divorced dad due to her sexuality. In this time where conceiving a child for same sex couples is hard and for those seeking surrogacy must go through an ordeal, why can it not be reasonable they receive the same rights? One’s sexuality does not make a person good or bad, smart or stupid, certainly heterosexual couples have not proven to date that a man and a woman raising a child is infallible. It is important that the children of same-sex parented families have the same rights and social supports as every other child in Queensland.

I want to live in a state where all children and all families are treated equally in the eyes of the law. I ask you to ensure all families receive these rights irrespective of their family arrangement. I urge the Queensland Government to implement these changes as soon as possible.

To whom it may concern,

I am a Queenslander and I feel strongly that same sex parents deserve the same parental rights as any other parent.

As a psychologist I know that children need to be able to count on their parents to be consistently and predictably caring and available. I have worked with so many people who did not receive this consistency or predictability during childhood from their heterosexual parents. As a result they have sustained emotional damage into adulthood. There was no inherent value in their parent’s gender or sexual orientation that protected these people.

For goodness sake, what does gender or sexual orientation have to do with a parent’s ability to be consistently caring and available for their children? Love makes a family. Please do the right thing and let same sex parents be legally recognised as parents.

Regards,

Andrea P
Clinical Psychology Intern

Leah follows the prewritten letter on www.arcq.com.au then adds:

I’m a 20 year old lesbian who lives in Rochedale South. My partner and I have been together for about a year and we’ve talked about kids but it’s not on the agenda yet. Merely knowing that we’d both have the same rights as heterosexual couples is a comforting thought for the future. It’s not always been easy, I’ve known I was gay since Year 7 but I didn’t fully understand or realise till I was in Grade 9. My Grandparents who I adored condoned gay people and they even banned me from reading about any form homosexuality unless it was saying that it was wrong. I felt so trapped and so alone. Most of my school years were spent in a deep depression where I didn’t really want to live out of fear that anyone would find out and then think I was a “dirty” person. I was afraid my Mother would kick me out, she has much the same views as my grandparents. One night she saw a gay couple on the news and said to me “I would never disown you if you were gay, but I wouldn’t love you as much”. It was an excruciating experience. I think that acts like these are very important, they influence people to understand rather than judge. I see gay young teens now and how easy it is for them to be out. It’s only taken 5 years to advance with such change to the way people interact and think about gay people. It’s not just important for gay people to support this, straight people should too. What happens someone you know has to go through the same thing that I did, I would never wish that upon anyone. Having things like this makes a community realise that it’s okay if you disagree with it, it’s okay if you agree with it, but we need to have equal rights. Thanks for your time.

Leah

I love Leah’s letter to the Community Consultation because it reminds me that I’m not just fighting for equal rights for myself, but for a better life for all the young gay and lesbian folk coming up after me. It gives me a sense of community, and also of being – not exactly an elder (because surely I’d have to be, you know, old) – maybe a mentor, or a role model of one way it’s possible to live a good life as a lesbian.

Here is a letter Marion, a non-bio mum,  has sent to all her friends:

******

Hi All

As many of you know I have a beautiful 10 month old daughter Millie. Unfortunately under current Queensland law I am not legally recognised as one of her parents. Besides being insulting this is really problematic for our family.

Here are a few examples:
* I can’t make medical decisions for Millie, legally I can’t take her to see a doctor without Tash being present
* I don’t automatically have custody of Millie if something happened to Tash
* If Millie were school age I wouldn’t be allowed to volunteer in her school becuase I am not family (but Tash’s parents and sister could automatically do this)
* I’m not mentioned on the birth certificate (straight couples who use donor sperm like we did are not treated this way – the father who has no biological connection to the child (just like me) is still listed as the father)
* I’m not allowed to adopt Millie because we are gay
* I’m not legally recognised as her next of kin
* My entire extended family, in particular my parents, are also not recognised legally as Millie’s family

However there is an opportunity to change all of this and you can help! The Qld government released 2 position papers that would allow me to be legally recognised as one of Millie’s parents. The deadline to respond is Sept 18th. If there isn’t a majority yes vote it may be another 5-10 years before there is a chance to vote on this again and I can’t wait that long!! At the moment there isn’t a majority yes vote so we need to act.

Things to do to help:
1)Could you please cut and past the form letter below, add your name (address too if you can, especially qld people) and email it to the address below. Feel free to chop and change as you wish and personalise or simply add your name. We need our responses to out number the far christian right who will write against this.
2) Join the cause Same sex headed families on facebook and invite all your freinds to do the same
3) Send this email to everyone you know and ask them to send a letter
4) Write to your local MP who will vote on this later in the year and ask them to vote yes.

Thanks for your support. The form letter is below. [Marion has added the form letter from here to the body of the email]

[ name and address]

Following on from the excellent suggestions of Pauline & Justine, I’ve made up a flyer that I’ve dropped off to my neighbours. I just went to the neighbours I’m already friendly with – I didn’t do a mass letterbox drop or anything.  I think knowing us personally is a very powerful tool in motivating people to write and demystifying same sex families (also I’m too shy to just doorknock).  I also took a dozen copies to Playgroup this morning and handed them out. Everyone is very supportive and surprised that we don’t have legal recognition – people just assume we do.

Feel free to copy & amend to suit your own situation.

A simple email can help us legally become a family

[insert attractive family photo here]

I’m writing to ask you a favour.

I don’t know if you realise, but Louise is not legally recognised as a parent to our children.

At the moment the government is running a “Community Consultation” to see how Queenslanders feel about same sex parents being recognised as legal parents. Then they will vote on it sometime towards the end of the year. We would like you to help us by writing in.

It’s really important for us – at the moment, for example, Louise is

  • Unable to take the children to medical appointments;

  • She would be unable to pick them up from school unless I gave permission;

  • Louise is unable to sign permission slips, eg for school excursions

  • She can’t travel with them on planes without a letter of permission from me;

  • If I died, our children would possibly be sent to live with my mother, who is their legal next of kin, rather than with Louise, their own mother, who has been there for them from birth

  • If she died, her will would be open to challenges from her family – as ‘legal’ next of kin have priority over ‘strangers’.

Louise and I dreamed of these babies together. We both tried getting pregnant for many years, and I was finally successful. To us, it doesn’t matter who gave birth to them – we love them unconditionally regardless of biology. We don’t see ourselves as any different to heterosexual couples who use donor sperm, or adoptive parents – both of these sorts of families know that biology isn’t important, love is.

We are asking people to send an email to legalpolicysubmission@justice.qld.gov.au

All you need to say is ” I support the recognition of same sex parents”.

You can also cc your local member on [I put our state MP’s email address here; you can find out yours here]

If you want to write a longer letter, feel free! There is a form letter at www.arcq.com.au You can read about the issues at http://www.justice.qld.gov.au/509.htm

Thanks – your email really WILL make a difference. I’d love to hear if you do write in!

[sign & contact email]

You can just send an email to the community consultation on legalpolicysubmission@justice.qld.gov.au saying “I support recognition of same sex parents and the inclusion of gay men in the surrogacy legislation”, but if you want to write a longer letter, the one below is from the ARCQ website.

*****

To the Director, Strategic Policy,

I am writing in relation to the release of the Queensland Government’s position papers titled, Queensland Government model for the decriminalisation of altruistic surrogacy and transfer of legal parentage and Review of the legal status of children being cared for by same-sex parents, dated August 2009.

I agree with the reforms proposed in these papers and believe they will have a significant, positive impact on many Queensland families without detracting from the existing rights of other families.

[Insert your own story or interest in this issue here]

It is important that the children of same-sex parented families have the same rights and social supports as every other child in Queensland. I want to live in a state where all children and all families are treated equally in the eyes of the law.

Prospective parents seeking to use altruistic surrogacy, regardless of whether the couple is heterosexual or same sex, will engage in informed, consenting activity with a surrogate. All parties in these arrangements deserve the protection of the Queensland law just as it is currently provided in most states and territories in Australia.

The proposed parenting presumption reform to include the birth mother’s same sex partner on the birth certificate so she can be recognised as a parent will simply extend the current recognition afforded to heterosexual couples using donor sperm for the conception of their children. It will provide important recognition and protection needed by same sex couples and their children. This reform will provide for consistency with Federal laws where same sex couples with children are now recognised as families.

I note that many states have introduced parenting presumption provisions relating only to when a medically supervised fertilisation procedure is used. I think this is an unfortunate legal emphasis on the medical model when, for at least a generation, lesbian couples and their male friends have often reached agreements to conceive children without the reliance on high levels of (expensive) medical intervention. Accordingly, I believe that the proposed reforms should focus on the relationship between the partners and to their child rather than the method of conception. I also believe that the law should be retrospective to enable partners that can demonstrate intention to co-parent at the time of a child’s birth to amend their child’s birth certificate for the inclusion of the non-biological parent.

All families deserve these rights irrespective of their family arrangement. I urge the Queensland Government to implement these changes as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

[Name]

[contact address eg email]