Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More gay men 'married with children'-Health/Sci-The Times of India

More gay men 'married with children'-Health/Sci-The Times of India

NEW YORK: The cost remains high, and a good lawyer is essential. Yet despite complications, the idea of becoming a biological dad with help from a surrogate mother is gaining allure among gay men as the status of "married with children" grows ever more possible.

With same-sex marriage now legal in California even to non-residents, and Massachusetts extending its 4-year-old gay-marriage policy to out-of-staters, in-wedlock parenting is suddenly a realistic option for gays and lesbians nationwide, even if their home state won't recognize the union.

Fertility clinics and surrogacy programs report increased interest from gay men, while couples who already have children are getting married — or considering it — to provide more security for those kids.

"We wanted our daughter to know her parents were married — that was the big thing for us," said Tommy Starling of Pawley's Island, South Carolina, who wed his partner of 12 years, Jeff Littlefield, on July 11 in Hollywood.

Among those at the ceremony was their daughter, Carrigan, who was born in California two years ago.

Starling said he and Littlefield had tried previously to adopt a child in South Carolina, but encountered anti-gay hostility and instead opted to become parents through a surrogacy program run by Los Angeles-based Growing Generations. Since 1996, it has matched hundreds of gay men with surrogate mothers who are paid to carry an implanted embryo produced from a donor egg fertilized with the client's sperm.

"Our journey to parenthood was not easy, cheap or fun," Starling and Littlefield wrote in an account of their family. "The result, however, has been the most amazing experience in the world; being called Daddy and Dad by our loving daughter."

For lesbian couples, biological parenthood is usually a far simpler proposition than for gay men, since there's no need for surrogacy and there are various options for becoming pregnant. A lesbian couple faces neither the cost of surrogacy, which can run as high as $150,000, nor the legal complications which call for a carefully negotiated contract with the surrogate mother.

"All the realms involved with men are much more complex," said Gail Taylor, president and founder of Growing Generations. But Taylor believes the option of marriage will, over time, lead to more biological gay dads. "For future generations, knowing they can fall in love, get married, have a child — absolutely, that will become a way of life more than it is," she said.

Starling, 36, and Littlefield, 52, face the likelihood that their marriage will not be recognized anytime soon in South Carolina. In contrast, Joe and Brent Taravella, who are raising three children in South Orange, New Jersey, already have a civil union and are optimistic that New Jersey will soon legalize same-sex marriages.

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