"Gay" Fathers Day in Canada vs America

Today being Fathers day I consider myself lucky to live in Canada and to be more precise, to live in BC where queer parents have the same rights as straight parents. All of this did not happen by accident. In the 1980's we elected a Premier in Bill VanderZalm. VanderZalm once proposed that people living with AIDS be put on an Island.

In the 1990's BC elected a government committed to equality. The NDP had passed policy in years past to support gay rights, to bring in laws supporting adoption, parental rights and provide all benefits available to straight parents to gay parents.

We had seen the failure of the Ontario NDP government when they tried to bring all these rights in one ominbus bill. The bill failed as the it was seen as too big a change. (Ontario provides equality in all aspects of life today for gay citizens) In 1992 the BC NDP government decided to bring in equality rights over a few years. Each year gay rights were improved. Each time the political parties in the Legislature supported the changes.

I was part of that government. The systematic approach worked. Today it would be unheard of for a gay father to lose custody because he was gay or because he had a partner. There are still systemic problems that father's face over custody issues with mothers favoured in our court system and that will be the basis of another article soon.

Today I am happy to be Canadian and a father who happens to be gay. In the United States father's that happen to be gay have many more hurdles to jumb to obtain any custody of their children. Take this example from Virginia.

"In 2002, a Virginia court issued an order allowing Hedberg to retain physical custody of the boy, but only on the condition that Delahoussaye move out of the family's home. In order to maintain two separate residences, the couple sold their house and moved into two smaller apartments in Maryland.

In the years since, Delahoussaye has visited his family as much as he can, but the restriction keeps them all from living in the same home together." ~ Eric Johnston, PlanetOut Network, June 17, 2005

This is not unusual. American courts take a dim view of gay fathers and have made the father break up with a partner inorder to maintain custody of their children. This happens despite studies indicating that kids raised by gay parents do as well as kids raised by straight parents. These punitive state sanctioned edicts occur despite the best interest of the child.

I know many gay parents, gay adoptive and foster parents as well. Our community and our country benefit from the contribution of gay people raising and supporting a families.

America is not only destroying many families with its backwards and uniformed laws preventing or restricting gay parents, America is proving the "home of the free" doesn't include millions of gay Americans.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind article! I keep up on gay rights as much as I can. I am a daughter of a gay father. It is my sincerest wish, that he will see the day that gay's in america have ALL of the rights that every human deserves to have. Unfortunately it seems we have a long way to go.
When it comes to raising a child, it does NOT matter what your sexual identity is.... the most important things are that you love them, you take good care of them, and that you teach them the right things. My father did all of those things and I would not ask for any other father to have raised me. I am thankful that my mother knew that my father was a good man and she wanted him to be in my life. Shame on those who can not just see people for who they are. There are many straight fathers whom I beleive are not the best, but it does not matter to anyone becuase they only care that these fathers are straight. Every different kind of people have their good and not so good people, whether they are straight or not.
Happy Fathers day out there to EVERY Kind of FATHER.
Love, Anne in California