Update laws to protect all LGBT Parents' Rights
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Imagine planning a family, imagine waiting 9 long months and being over the moon when your baby finally arrives. Imagine raising your baby for years, being there for them every day. Watching them grow, loving them, caring for them and seeing every single milestone. Now, imagine that is all taken away from you in the blink of an eye. You cannot see your child, your baby. Your life has been taken away from you and the law does not give you any protections and works against you.
My name is Rily, I am a transgender man and father. This is my story:
One of the greatest blessings in life is having a family. And just like any other couple, my partner at the time and I wanted to start our own. We planned and with the help of a donor we conceived a baby. Our baby. We found out we were having a daughter and I was ecstatic. We held a baby shower and took maternity pictures together. I was right there the moment my daughter entered the world and took her first breath. I cut the umbilical cord, spent her first hours of life right by her side and wore my hospital bracelet proudly. I was there to celebrate every milestone with my daughter. Her first smile, laugh, word, steps...everything. We celebrated birthdays and holidays as a happy family of 3. She was my entire world, my focus and my reason for doing everything. Watching her grow and learn has been the most precious and beautiful gift. When my daughter was a little more than 3 years old, I began my own personal journey and transition to becoming the man I have always known I was meant to be. My daughter was there every step of the way. Calling me Daddy, telling me how handsome I was and how much she loved me. It was the most incredible feeling in the world to know that my daughter was proud of me! As life goes, sometimes, relationships and marriages do not last. My partner and I came to the decision that we would no longer be together but that we would always be a family and do our best to give our daughter both of her parents. We were co-parenting and things were going well. Things started to get rocky when she was about 4 years old and 7 months ago is the last time I was allowed to see my daughter. My beautiful baby girl. I hired a lawyer and with her help, we began fighting an uphill custody battle. We have hit roadblocks every step of the way. The laws have not been working in our favor, to say the least. Since my partner and I were never legally married, the laws offer me no protection. We are going to continue fighting and doing everything possible to bring my daughter back home and reunite her with her family. My lawyer has suggested taking my story public. Sending it to the ACLU, HRC, news stations and anywhere else we possibly can. The laws have not caught up with the times and that needs to change. Myself and many other parents are being denied the rights to our children simply because the court's hands are tied by these outdated laws. The new law on same sex marriage offers some protections but only to a certain population of our community. Those of us who were never married because the law prevented it and were separated before that law came into action have little to no options.
These past 7 months have been heartbreaking, awful and the most difficult time in my life. We need to set the ball rolling and get these laws changed so that my family and many other families like mine can be reunited and made whole again. We do this by writing to our legislators, signing petitions, sharing our stories and making our voices heard. It is time for a change! Please help us #FightForOurFamilies and #BringBugHome!!
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