SOURCE: Whitehorn Group

Whitehorn Group

October 21, 2013 09:14 ET

Marriage Equality Comes to New Jersey, Christopher Johnson, Founder of FamilyIntent.com and CEO of Whitehorn, Asks Will Surrogacy Laws Change Too?

As Gay Marriage Equality Increases, Is It Time to Protect All American Families?

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - October 21, 2013) - The ruling on Friday by New Jersey's highest court that allows same-sex marriage to commence from today, Monday, October 21st will have far-reaching effects. By making this unanimous ruling, the court refused Governor Chris Christie's request for a stay that would put on hold an order issued by a lower court on September 27th that had declared the state's marriage laws unconstitutional. The New Jersey judges relied on the DOMA ruling to make this historic judgment. The ruling made on Friday was in response to a case brought by the gay-rights group Lambda Legal on behalf of six couples. Though Christie says he prefers a voter referendum, the polls already show that a majority of New Jersey citizens support marriage equality and thus his attempts are futile. Christopher Johnson says, "This is exciting news for my home state. It may also be another significant move that may soon affect surrogacy laws."

Johnson states, "Like me, there are many fathers in America who identify as gay." These are fathers who have decided to start their own families with or without a partner. Some people may assume that gay people cannot opt for parenthood but research data disproves this notion. One famous example is Ricky Martin who became a father when he decided to have children through gestational surrogacy. The problem that intended fathers face when choosing surrogacy -- straight, gay, partnered, married or single -- is the patchwork of surrogacy laws that make the process unjustifiably difficult. In New Jersey, there have been cases where surrogate mothers have successfully sued for equal rights to raise the child, even though it is not their own. Take the case of Donald Robinson Hollingsworth and Sean Hollingsworth who used an embryo from donated eggs and sperm from Sean Hollingsworth. The woman they contracted to carry the embryo was Donald's sister who later gave birth to twins. After giving birth she went to court and demanded maternal rights for the twins despite the fact that she had signed a contract relinquishing her rights. She won the case and is now responsible for the twins too. This just shows how shaky the surrogacy laws are. Johnson states, "This is why I started familyintent.com. Surrogacy still remains an unpredictable pathway to parenthood in America. By sharing my story, I hope to deliver resources and clear information to anyone who chooses to be a parent."

New Jersey is the first state to make such a ruling after the DOMA repeal in the Supreme Court. Gay couples are justifiably thrilled. But these gay couples may also want to have biological children in the future and will likely have to contend with potentially difficult surrogacy laws. Married lesbians may not face the same difficulty as gay men because they have easier options like sperm banks. Johnson states, "Most women don't have to find a surrogate to carry their own child, this protects them from any pervasive stigmas and the legal arrangements gay male couples, and some singles like me, have to make with egg donors and surrogates." Surrogacy is an expensive affair and using a fertility clinic can incur substantial costs. Now that DOMA is dead and states like New Jersey have opened doors for marriage equality, it is sensible to expect that the next step will be for surrogacy laws to be rewritten. Currently, the laws are skewed in favor of opposite-sex infertility and discriminate against same-sex couple's infertility.

Johnson says, "As gay marriage takes hold here in New Jersey and across the nation, creating joyous, stable and thriving families, we will inevitably see a rise in the demand for surrogacy. Following this may also be an increase for single men -- both gay and straight -- to choose to also become single fathers, like me." Through gestational surrogacy, these intended single fathers, just like couples who use IVF, can have their own biological children to start a family on their own. Right now in America there are over 1.7 million single fathers successfully raising children on their own according to the U.S. Census Bureau -- and the number is rising.

Single parenthood was part of our national conversation previously in the 80's when many women began choosing to become single mothers. Though politicians and opinion leaders of the time were against the trend, they could not stop it. So single-parenthood is far from a new thing. Johnson says, "I myself am a gay single father through my choice to employ gestational surrogacy. Although fertility assistance can be a complex process -- as any parent knows, either married, single, gay or straight -- the eventual birth of my daughter was the greatest gift imaginable." With the repeal of DOMA and the acceptance of equal marriage rights in New Jersey and increasingly in America, it appears that soon our surrogacy laws will also need to be reviewed and revised to match our Constitution.

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For more information, visit FamilyIntent.com or whitehorngroup.com. Christopher Johnson may be reached at (212) 537-9129, johnson.c@whitehorngroup.com or on Twitter @Chris4Whitehorn.

About Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is CEO of branding firm Whitehorn Group and founder of FamilyIntent.com. Mr. Johnson is a highly regarded authority on creating innovativebrands such as Infiniti Automobiles and JetBlue Airways. Johnson is a gay single father by choice and advocate for Parenting, Surrogacy and LGBT issues. www.familyintent.com 

About Whitehorn Group

Whitehorn is a premier brand strategy firm. They create what's NEW and NEXT through global branding, design, product innovation, celebrity brands, business strategy, global marketing and distribution. www.whitehorngroup.com

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