NY Times Champions Gay Men's Surrogate Child Purchase For the 'Post Marriage-Equality World'

February 22nd, 2014 4:57 PM

In an utterly typical flourish, the front of the "Thursday Styles" section of The new York Times featured two gay men and a tot over the headline "And Surrogacy Makes 3: Surrogate baby-making, through restricted in many states, has been growing among gay men."

Times reporter Anemona Hartocollis told the utterly unopposed story of New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman and his partner David Sigal with their daughter, Silvia Hoylman-Sigal. In New York, Sen. Hoylman is trying to make it easier for gays to use surrogates for their "fundamentally conservative embrace of family values." Their baby story "carries with it an extra frisson of the illicit that seems to them more than a little archaic and unfair in the post marriage-equality world."

Hoylman and Sigal had to travel to California to create a surrogate baby, since commercial surrogacy contracts have been illegal in New York since the "notorious Baby M case of the 1980s." Mary Beth Whitehead kept her child after the pregnancy. Now they're trying to repeal that law:

Surrogate baby-making has long been a path taken by the affluent and celebrities, partly because it takes good legal advice and money to accomplish. But in recent years, it has been growing among gay men, who in a fundamentally conservative embrace of family values, see having children and building a family as the logical next step after getting married.

“Not to be cliché, but you know how the phrase goes — first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby and the baby carriage,” said Allison Steinberg, a spokeswoman for the Empire State Pride Agenda, which has endorsed the bill.

The bill’s supporters argue that it makes no sense for New York, which has a large number of fertility clinics, not to mention a flourishing gay community, not to be able to offer commercial surrogacy to those who want it. And they say that making surrogacy more widely available could reduce the exorbitant costs, easily as much as $100,000 per baby.

In Mr. Hoylman and Mr. Sigal’s case, neither of their parents expected them to have children. “Now they think he’s a family man,” Mr. Sigal said, grinning at his husband.

“It’s a funny phrase,” Mr. Hoylman said. “This is what it takes for people to relate to you.”

Mr. Hoylman says views on his Facebook page spike when he puts up pictures of their daughter, Silvia, now 3, but not when he puts up photographs of him and his husband without her.

The bill’s co-sponsors could hardly offer a more perfect vision of the surrogacy constituency. Mr. Hoylman, who took his Senate office last year, represents the heart of gay New York, in the Village, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen. The Assembly sponsor, Amy Paulin, who actually originated the bill, is from wealthy Scarsdale.

The Times can't even be liberal enough to balance this out with someone complaining from outside the One Percent that surrogacy's only for the wealthy. Surrogacy subsidies can't be far off. The positive buzz continued, about how surrogate mothers prefer growing babies for the gay men:

Agencies prefer to contract with surrogates who are married with children, because they have a proven ability to have a healthy baby and are less likely to have second thoughts about giving up the child.

Conversely, gay couples are popular among surrogates. “Most of my surrogates want same-sex couples,” said Darlene Pinkerton, the owner of A Perfect Match, the agency in San Diego that Mr. Hoylman used. Women unable to become pregnant often go through feelings of jealousy and loss, she said. But with gay men, that is not part of the dynamic, so “the experience is really positive for the surrogate.”

Or as her husband, Tom, a third-party reproductive lawyer, put it, “Imagine instead of just having one husband doting on you, you have three guys now sending you flowers.”

There's no sense in the Times account of what causes the Catholics and other more conservative Americans to oppose surrogate parenting, to make what should be an organic family headed by a man and a woman and turn it into a crudely commercial transaction, complete with its own callous terminology:

Today, the pregnancy would involve a third-party egg, so the surrogate would not be genetically related to the baby. The new technology has given rise to a whole new language — gestational carrier, instead of surrogate mother, “intended parents,” “collaborative reproduction.”

Instead of bonding with the baby, “the gestational carrier bonds to the parents, and that’s what we want to have happen,” Ms. Hinson said. “That’s the key — that it’s somebody else’s child. These women, they just renew your faith in womankind.”

In a nod to the baby-selling concerns of the Baby M case, Mr. Hoylman and Ms. Paulin’s proposed law says that the gestational carrier would be paid for her services, not for giving up parental rights to a baby.

Why not just call the rented womb the "unrelated uterus" at this juncture? Or maybe...the "U-Haul"?