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Local resource center hosts LBGT discussion

The LGBTA-Q Resource Center is hosting a discussion about the legal entanglements of gay marriage, adoption and rights in their second annual LBGT Symposium this weekend.

This year’s discussion, ‘LGBT Families and the American Society,’ will feature gay parents and parents-to-be sharing their struggles to conceive, adopt and start families under restrictive and unsupportive legislation.

‘For the election of 2004, gay rights was the biggest issue to come about [in Ohio],’ said Cassandra Siler, symposium coordinator, adding the event might change opinions about gay families.

Ohio is one of many states in the country which bars joint adoption by same-sex couples, meaning only one parent can legally claim the child. The additional passage of the 2004 constitutional state ban on gay marriage further denied adoption and custody protection for non-married couples.

Nicky Damania, graduate assistant for the Resource Center, hopes the event will help gay couples through the ‘hoops and loops’ of becoming legal guardians.

The discussion will begin with two lesbian couples – the first will talk about their experiences in securing adoption rights for the non-biological mother of their two children, and the second couple will explore the process of artificial insemination in making their own family.

A second pair of couples will add to the presentation their views of the course of adoption. A lesbian couple will explain how they adopted a girl from foster care, and how their adopted daughter later gave birth to a child which she gave up for adoption. The adoptive parents of this child, a gay male couple, will join in the dialogue.

Another guest has been invited to speak on family relationships concerning gay grandparents.

Nancy Orel, associate professor and director of the Gerontology Program at the University, will present her research on lesbian and bisexual grandmothers in Midwestern society.

Orel said her effort has been directed toward uncovering how the sexual liberation movement affected those who are now grandparents and how sexual orientation affects the relationship between lesbian and bisexual grandmothers and their grandchildren.

She will demonstrate how negative cultural attitudes prevent families from having healthy relationships.

‘The key is recognizing that there’s diversity in families,’ Orel said. ‘Not all grandparents are straight.’

The symposium also will touch on the other topics concerning gays in America, including the conservative versus liberal approach of shaping legislation in the United States.

Members of gay-supportive groups, the Stonewall Democrats and the Log Cabin Republicans will share their views on combating discrimination of LGBT members at home and serving overseas, along with their diverging group takes on amending the laws to protect the community.

Overall, Damania said the program is not exclusively geared toward LGBT members.

‘It can be [for] individuals who are not interested in getting married,’ he said. That’s because adoptions laws in Ohio also preclude non-married heterosexuals who want to jointly adopt a child.

The LGBT Symposium is tomorrow in the Union. The first session will begin at 10 a.m. and presentations will end with an open panel discussion beginning at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are free for students and $2 each for members of the community.

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