Sunday, January 26, 2014

Same-sex couples anger at inequality

 Anthony Kinahan, left, with his partner Barry Gardiner. Anthony says: 'In all our 15 years we never really felt discriminated against until we wanted to have a family.' Picture: Sasko LazarovBeing told you’d make a great dad is meant as a compliment but every time Anthony Kinahan hears it, his heart aches.

The 32-year-old Louth man and his civil partner, 34-year-old Barry Gardiner, long to be parents but without access to adoption for same-sex couples, their dream of having a family of their own remains just that.

The couple have been together for 15 years and entered civil partnership in Feb 2007 in Belfast, to the delight of their family and friends.

“We were never treated any different from my brother and his wife or my sister and her husband so in all our 15 years we never really felt discriminated against until we wanted to have a family,” says Anthony.

He and Barry lived in London for a while and took the first steps towards applying for approval as adoptive parents there but they missed Ireland and made the difficult decision to come home, giving up their hopes of parenting on the way.

“We are both paternal. We both want our own kids. We both work with children. We have loads of nieces and nephews. We just get on with kids and kids get on with us.

“Especially with Barry — people would often remark oh, you’d made a great dad, and that’s like a dagger in the heart because we feel we would be great dads and we think there are children out there who need loving parents like us.”

In 2012, Anthony and Barry were approved as foster parents and have since had a number of short-term placements, but they still want to make a life-long commitment to a child.

“All we ever looked for is eligibility to apply [to adopt]. I’m not saying we should be entitled to adopt but should be able to put our names in the hat.”

The couple’s story was one of several told at a seminar hosted by Marriage Equality yesterday that highlighted the difficulties caused by laws that discriminate against non-traditional families and couples.

TV production company owner Linda Cullen spoke of her anxiety at having no legal relationship to the twin daughters born to her partner, Feargha Ni Bhroin, by assisted reproduction.

Feargha is scheduled for surgery later this week and if anything happened to the little girls while she is out of action, Linda has no legal authority to make decisions regarding their welfare.

Angela O’Connell from Cork urged the State to recognise her family in its entirety. She has two children from a marriage, a child she has helped foster since a baby, and a child born to her lesbian ex-partner through assisted reproduction.

Although she and her partner split up, they co-parent the two younger children who share both their names and spend Christmas and holidays with them jointly, yet those children have no legal relationship to her.

“They have no claim on me. I could pretty much walk away tomorrow and nobody could tell me to do other wise which to my mind is absolutely appalling.”

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