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Boggis, Terry. “Affording Our Families: Class Issues in Family Formation,” 2004.


This article is the eleventh chapter from the book, Queer Families, Queer Politics: Challenging Culture and the State, which is about LGBT families and its connection to law, politics, and social movements. Boggis relies on her experience from working at the Center Kids, which is a family program of the Lesbian, and Gay Services Center in New York. Her son, “lover”, and herself were one of the first families to be in the program and has been a member of the committee since 1988. Boggis discusses how reproductive technologies and adoption policies have allowed for those in the LGBT community to have children be a part of their family, however these are not affordable options for all in the community. Only upper and middle class LGBT couples have access to reproductive technologies where they do not have to compromise their sexual identity and/or health. So then the only options for working class lesbians and gay men is to have heterosexual contact or home insemination with fresh unchecked donor sperm, which involves health risks that do not occur with sperm from a bank. With this option there is also a risk of legal interventions with the donor asserting parental rights, while those who acquire sperm from a bank are legally protected. Private and international adoptions are expensive and the less expensive public adoption they are required to take on additional challenges. At first the second-parent adoption rights, where the other adult in the household that is not related to the child through blood or marriage can adopt without the other parent relinquishing parental custody, was celebrated as a progressive law for the LGBT movement. However, the legal process is costly and not applying for second-parent adoption can be used as a reason to dismiss custody claims when a couple breaks up. Boggis disagrees with the “we’re just like everyone else” rhetoric adopted by the mainstream LGBT movement, which means white upper middle-class educated property owners, that does not include most in the LGBT community. Having children should be accessible and safe for working-class LGBT individuals, they have the right to reproduce and create alternative families of their own. Boggis’s solution is that instead of assimilating, there needs to be an expansive definition of family and collaboration with movements that focus on families and economic-welfare rights, for example the reproductive rights, immigration rights, and labor rights movements.

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Related Topics

Coalitions   Assisted reproductive technology   Adoption

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