Friday, February 22, 2013

Around The Nation

Kansas Supreme Court Rules to Protect the Interests of Children in All Families, Regardless of Parents’ Sexual Orientation
TOPEKA, KS -- The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Friday that when a same-sex couple has a child together, both parents can be fully recognized as parents under Kansas state law. The court explained that Kansas parentage laws apply equally to women and non-biological parents, and that courts must consider the reality of who a child’s parents are in order to protect the interests of children. The court also ruled that an agreement to co-parent and share custody can be enforceable. 
With this ruling, Kansas joins a number of other states in ruling that when two people bring a child into the world and then raise that child as co-parents, the law should treat both of them as the child’s parents, regardless of gender or biology. These courts have recognized that reality is that the children in these families exist, and the law cannot turn its back on that reality or on a child’s need for stability and a protected relationship with both parents. This ruling is significant not only for same-sex parents, but also for many kinds of families where non-biological parents are raising children. 
Marci Frazier and Kelly Goudschaal were in a same-sex relationship and decided to have children together through insemination. Kelly was the birth mother for their two children, who they then raised for many years as co-parents. They gave the children hyphenated last names, and the two mothers signed a written agreement saying that they both intended to be parents and share custody of the children. The relationship between Kelly and Marci broke down in 2008. They co-parented the children for a period of time after separation, but then Kelly cut off contact between Marci and the children.
After Marci went to court to try to see the children again, a Kansas trial court granted joint custody to the two women. Kelly appealed this order and argued that Marci was not a parent and had no right to seek custody. The Kansas Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling and explained that both women could be legally recognized as parents under Kansas law.
Cathy Sakimura, the Family Law Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights said in a press release;
“Today, the Kansas Supreme Court recognized that children with same-sex parents have the same need for stability and protection as children in any other family. We are grateful to the court for this thoughtful decision protecting the best interests of children in all families." 
"Today's decision is important and ground breaking," said Doug Bonney, legal director of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri. "The court rightly found that the co-parenting agreement was not only legal, but that it served the best interest of the children."
The National Center for Lesbian Rights, the ACLU of Kansas & Western Missouri, and ACLU Foundation submitted an Amicus brief in support of recognizing both mothers. Amicus briefs in support of the non-biological mother were also filed by the National Association of Social Workers, represented by Stephanie Goodenow, and Washburn University School of Law Children and Family Law Center.

Newspaper Publisher Defends Same-Sex Marriage Front Page Story
LAUREL, MS -- The owner-publisher of a rural paper in this south central Mississippi city of 18,000 is defending his paper's decision to run a front page story on what it termed the first same-sex marriage in its coverage area.
The Laurel Leader-Call's February 7 story about the wedding of Jessica Powell and Crystal Craven, a local lesbian couple, provoked a firestorm of protest and angry e-mails, phone calls, and even Facebook posts from its readers in a state that does not legally recognize same-sex marriage.
In detailing the women's story, the paper headlined the story as a 'Historic Wedding,' noting too that the couple has been battling the effects of Craven's fight with brain cancer. The front page story reported that the couple exchanged vows earlier this month at a ceremony in Laurel, attended by family, friends and Craven's doctors.
"If chemo doesn't work, we don't know what happens after that," Craven told the Leader-Call. 
"This is true love," Powell said. "Love is love. It knows no gender." She added: "I don't remember voting on straight marriage, so why is gay marriage an issue?"
After the story's publication provoked the overwhelmingly outraged reaction, owner-publisher Jim Cegielski, wrote in an op-ed Saturday:
"We shouldn't have to defend every decision we make here at the Leader-Call. However, the intense reaction to our gay wedding front-page story, which led to a deluge of hate calls, letters, e-mails, Facebook posts, soundoffs and random cross stares thrown in my direction, warrants some sort of response. So here it is."
Cegielski continued:
We were well aware that the majority of people in Jones County are not in favor of gay marriage. However, any decent newspaper with a backbone can not base decisions on whether to cover a story based on whether the story will make people angry. 
The job of a community newspaper is not pretending something didn't take place or ignoring it because it will upset people. No, our job is to inform readers what is going on in our town and let them make their own judgments. That is exactly what we did with the wedding story. Our reporter heard about the wedding, attended it, interviewed some of the participants and wrote a news story. If there had been protestors at the wedding, we would have covered that the exact same way … but there weren't any. We never said it was a good thing or a bad thing, we simply did our job by telling people what took place. 
I took the bulk of the irate phone calls from people who called the paper to complain. Most of the complaints seem to revolve around the headline, "Historic Wedding," and the fact that we chose to put the story on the front page. My answer to the "Historic Wedding" headline is pretty simple. You don't have like something for it to be historic. 
The holocaust, bombing of Pearl Harbor and the Black Sox scandal are all historic. I'm in no way comparing the downtown wedding of two females to any of those events (even though some of you made it quite clear that you think gay marriage is much worse). 
[...] We have stories about child molesters, murders and all kinds of vicious, barbaric acts of evil committed by heinous criminals on our front page and yet we never receive a call from anyone saying 'I don't need my children reading this.' Never. Ever. However, a story about two women exchanging marriage vows and we get swamped with people worried about their children. 
I had at least 20 or so readers express to me they think gay marriage is "an abomination against God." We never said it wasn't. We never said it was. 
"We were simply reporting to the best of our ability," Cegielski wrote. "However, I can't help but be saddened by the hate-filled viciousness of many of the comments directed toward our staff … No one here deserves to be berated or yelled at simply because we were doing our job." 
Fifteen readers canceled their subscriptions in protest, according to Cegielski.
"You have every right to cancel your subscription," he wrote. "But you have no right to berate and belittle anyone on our staff."