Category Archives: Uncategorized

“For as long as we can remember, we have always wanted to become fathers”: Jimmy and Michael’s Surrogacy Journey

We recently interviewed with new dads Jimmy Nguyen and Michael Duque. Their journey to fatherhood included a visit to the Men Having Babies/ OFC Surrogacy Conference and Expo, now in its 6th year and taking place this upcoming weekend, January 12th and 13th, at San Francisco’s Marines’ Memorial Club and Hotel in the Union Square area. Read on for more…

Our Family Coalition: Tell us about your family. 

Jimmy and Michael: We have been together for 13 years total, and married for one year. We were friends before we got together as a couple. In fact, Jimmy was trying to help Michael get over a recent ex of his, developing feelings for Michael in the process. One thing led to another and the rest is history!

OFC: How long was this journey, from having the idea in your head to now, when the baby is in your arms and you’re both launched into fatherhood?

Jimmy and Michael: For as long as we can remember, we have always wanted to become fathers and have always had the desire to have children. Even in our younger days when we were still having fun, we have always set a goal for ourselves to become parents somewhere in our mid-thirties when we are ready emotionally, psychologically, and financially.

Fast forward to about five years ago. We began our initial research into the different kinds of options to family building (adoption, fostering, surrogacy, co-parenting, etc). After a couple of years of research and talking to different people, we ultimately decided that surrogacy was the choice for us. During the holidays of 2016, we started talking about our goals for the new year, and we decided that 2017 was the year to take the plunge and start our journey of fatherhood.

Come early January 2017, while researching about surrogacy, Jimmy got distracted and scrolled through his Facebook feed. With the amazing remarketing technology of Facebook, an advertisement for Men Having Babies in San Francisco came up on Jimmy’s feed. We saw the ad on Tuesday and the seminar was for Saturday. We immediately booked flights and accommodations and attended the seminar a few days later.

Fast forward one year and nine months and the birth of our son was October 11, 2018. Our actual journey was relatively short by most standards, but we came into it with a few years of research behind us.

OFC: What were the things that you were most worried about that turned out the most different? Fears, concerns, natural things you were obsessing would be a problem but actually weren’t? What were your biggest discoveries?

Jimmy and Michael: We were worried that we would have many complications and that it would take several tries and tens of thousands more dollars to achieve pregnancy, but we were so lucky to have had a relatively smooth journey. We had one failed transfer; however, we were successful with the subsequent transfer two months later. The fear was based on talking to people and reading about the plethora of things that could go wrong.

We were also worried that we wouldn’t develop a good relationship with our surrogate and that it would be purely ‘business’ in nature, but we were also lucky to meet our wonderful surrogate and her family and have developed an amazing bond with them that still continues to this day. We discovered that there were tons of resources available to us through Men Having Babies and that our journey would be guided step-by-step by the wonderful men and women who were affiliated with the organization.

OFC: For many, the cost of surrogacy is essentially prohibitive, how did you manage to navigate this piece of the process?

Jimmy and Michael: We did not embark on our journey without having saved up enough money to complete the journey – without having to remortgage our house or take out any loans. We were fortunate enough to be able to do this prior to starting our journey. We understand that this may not be possible for many people, but it is imperative that sacrifices are made in order to save up for this journey.

OFC: Were there any organizations or groups that have been particularly helpful for you along the way, in addition to Men Having Babies or Our Family Coalition? Are there any resources you would consider critical?

Jimmy and Michael: We mostly reached out to MHB members with questions we had along the way with our journey, and everyone helped immensely in answering all of the questions that we had. We also received help from other infertility professionals that were working with Canadian Fertility Consulting (CFC) as well. CFC was the agency we worked with for the Canadian part of our journey.

OFC: If you had the chance to talk to yourselves years ago, what would be the most critical advice you’d want to give yourselves, with the insight you have now that you’re on this side of the journey?

Jimmy and Michael: Don’t be afraid and intimidated by the process! Take the plunge and know that there are lots of resources around to help navigate the journey.

OFC: If there were any gift you could give prospective and expecting dads at their baby shower, what would it be?

Jimmy and Michael: It would be to have Dr. Georges Sylvestre on their speed dial to help answer any and all questions related to the medical part of the journey! Dr. Sylvestre is very active with MHB and is a huge resource to have.

Good luck!

The 6th Annual Surrogacy Conference and Expo takes place this weekend, January 12-13, 2019, at the Marines’ Memorial Club and Hotel, in San Francisco.

New attacks against LGBTQ families & our community (under the guise of “religious liberty”)

Yesterday the Trump administration took another step toward conservative, evangelical theocracy.

Thanks to a sensational news day, this year’s declaration received less attention than last year’s “Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty.” But it’s no less concerning, since it continues to embolden and empower those who would weaponize religion against constitutionally recognized protections, pointedly of LGBTQ people and our families.

In a thorough piece covering the announcement, Daily Beast journalist Samantha Allen sets yesterday’s Executive Order in context, and conveys statements from  our colleagues at the ACLU and Lambda Legal, who are watching this closely. Allen notes:

Much like the HHS Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, the new White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative does not amount to major new policy—although Trump promised in his remarks Thursday morning that it will “help design new policies that recognize the vital role of faith in our families, our communities, and our great country.”

Overlooked in so many treatments of this subject is the fact that 81% of Americans believe the law should not allow companies or other institutions to use religious believes to decided whether to offer a service to some people and not others (per the ACLU, here). Likewise overlooked is the fact that a majority of LGBTQ people nationwide consider themselves active members of a faith community, most of them Christian (13% Evangelical, per the 2014 Pew Religious Landscape Study here). That said, LGBTQ Americans are far more likely to be “unaffiliated” with a faith than other Americans. And too many of us have experienced exclusion from faiths in which we were raised. None of this dampens the vibrancy of the many open and affirming congregations that are home to so many of us.

The application of “religious liberty” arguments thus far have proved that these gestures are designed primarily to provide cover for unconstitutional denials of service (details in the recent report, Religious Refusals in Health Care: A Prescription for Disaster).  As always, we’ll remain alert along with our allies, and confident that our greatest power lies in our love. Please help us amplify the true stories about our families and our faiths. What do you believe in? What does freedom for and freedom from religion mean to you? Send us your words or join the Speakers’ Bureau; contact us at

What Are the LGBTQ Impacts of the New GOP ACA Repeal Proposal?

Guest post by Amanda Wallner, Director, California LGBT Health & Human Services Network

On March 6, House Republicans released their plan to deliver on campaign promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act and roll back decades of progress in health care. This proposal would undermine the Medi-Cal expansion and Covered California – two programs that expanded access to health care for over 6 million Californians. Not only that, but the proposal includes a cut of $15-20 billion for Medi-Cal and raises copays and deductibles while reducing financial help to pay for premiums and cost sharing for those who purchase their insurance through Covered California; both of these proposals hit low- and middle-income Californians hardest. The Congressional Budget Office has not yet analyzed the proposal– and Republicans in Congress are trying to rush a vote before they have a chance to – however, the likely result is that millions of Californians may go without health insurance once again, and those who maintain coverage could see a dramatic drop in quality.

Three of the top things to know for LGBTQ Californians are:

∙   This proposal disproportionately hurts LGBTQ Californians. The health care gains under the ACA were particularly impactful for LGBTQ people, who are more likely to live in poverty and were less likely to have health insurance or a regular provider. The proposed bill includes tens of billions of dollars in cuts to Medi-Cal and Covered California, making health insurance a luxury that may once again be out of reach for many LGBTQ people.

∙   Planned Parenthood is an important provider of health care for LGBTQ Californians, providing culturally competent sexual health, preventative, and transition-related care throughout the state. The current proposal singles out Planned Parenthood and eliminates reimbursements for care they provide – effectively preventing people from getting their care at Planned Parenthood (see more here).

∙   The proposal threatens to stop, and even reverse, the progress we’ve made at addressing LGBTQ health disparities. Thanks to the ACA, many more LGBTQ Californians have access to health care; including cancer screenings, HIV and STI testing, substance use treatment, and other preventative care that are helping to close LGBTQ health disparities. Losing coverage threatens the health equity gains that we’ve made over the past several decades.

For more updates, you can follow the California LGBT Health & Human Services Network on Facebook and Twitter, or visit the website at


∙   NCTE: Repealing Obamacare would be devastating for transgender Americans

∙   Health Access: The House Republican Proposal Costs More and Covers Less

∙   Planned Parenthood: The Impact of Defunding Planned Parenthood

∙   Families USA: Healthy and Wealthy Benefit under the House Republicans’ Affordable Care Act Repeal Plan

∙   Fenway Institute: LGBT People and Those Living with HIV Have Benefitted from ACA, Have Much at Stake in Reform Debate

∙   You can read the full bill here:

Take Action:

∙   Call your member of Congress at (202) 224-3121 or visit a local district office and demand that health coverage be affordable and accessible to all.

∙   Share your story about how the ACA has helped you.

∙   Attend an event! If you would like assistance planning an event for your community, or to help with any of the events below, you can email me at

∙   Share a call to action on Facebook, Twitter, and with your email lists:

Tell Congress: Do not vote to repeal health care!

About the author: Amanda Wallner serves as Director of The California LGBT Health and Human Services Network, a statewide coalition of non-profit providers, community centers, and researchers working collectively to advocate for state-level policies and resources to advance LGBT health and wellness, as part of the movement for LGBT equality.


Virtual Town Hall for Trans Student Rights: #ShowUp4TransYouth

Dear Families,

This afternoon the Trump administration rescinded guidance the Department of Justice had provided schools on recognizing and protecting transgender students. This further demonstrates their intention to roll back all of the pro-LGBT gains we have achieved over the years.

Together we have fought and won too many recent legal battles to turn back now. And fortunately we’re not alone: Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson issued a statement reiterating protection of trans students as a core value:

All students deserve a safe and supportive school environment. California will continue to work to provide that environment for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students regardless of any misguided directives by the federal government and the Trump administration.

If we remain informed and vigilant, this footnote in history will not deter us. Tomorrow our partners at the GSA Network and Transgender Law Center are bringing together trans youth leaders, community leaders, legal experts, and allies from across the country to discuss the effects of this rollback and what will be needed to ensure our safety as LGBTQ families.

Please join us to hear what’s next for trans student advocacy.

What: Virtual Town Hall on Transgender Student Rights
When: Thursday, February 23rd at 2:00PM Pacific
Webinar link:

And as always, when your time is limited but your resources are less so: please donate what you can to support the organizations that support our families. Everything we do together makes a difference.

In solidarity and strength,
Our Family Coalition

PS: The Dept of Justice can be reached at 202-514-2000 and the Dept of Education at 800-872-5327. Demand that Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos protect the rights of ALL students, including gender creative and transgender students, today!

Anti-LGBT Executive Order – Action Alert


Dear beloved community,

As you may have heard, we are expecting an extremely destructive anti-LGBT Executive Order to be issued by the Trump/Pence regime any moment now. Under the guise of “religious freedom,” this order would not just legalize, but incentivize discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, families, women seeking health care, as well as unmarried heterosexual couples!

We know that nothing about this order would contribute to the stability of families or make children – of LGBTQ parents or not – more secure. And we will fight like hell to challenge their relentless attacks against LGBT families and other targeted communities. Our Family Coalition is already working with our legal partners to prepare for a lawsuit against the Trump administration, as an organizational plaintiff, for the first time in our history, due to the far-reaching impact on our community.


But our small team is completely stretched to meet the various advocacy demands and we need your help to continue organizing on the ground, at the state level and to be at national tables representing LGBTQ families. Will you join forces with us? Here are a few steps you and those who love and support your family can take:

  1. Join Our Family Coalition’s Speakers’ Bureau. We are looking to identify LGBT parents/caregivers and children/youth of LGBT parents who can volunteer to speak to the press, share their stories (via multiple mediums) and boost our capacity to speak the truth to power!

  2. Donate what you can to Our Family Coalition, and encourage your friends to do the same! We are fighting for same-sex couples and all LGBT families right now, and are preparing for an even bigger fight (if that’s possible) pending lawsuits. We need your support to raise 30K as soon as possible to hire a field organizer.

  3. Support a local action. Our Family Coalition will be representing at both the Oakland and San Francisco rallies. Exact dates will depend on when the executive order comes out. Check the Facebook pages for the most up to date info.

  4. Join Senator Kamala Harris in rejecting Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary: her long record funding anti-LGBTQ hate groups, who specifically call out trans people as unfit to teach kids, makes her one of our most pointed adversaries.

  5. Sign and generously share Transgender Law Center’s petition opposing the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the (stolen) Supreme Court seat. His record shows he would vigorously support a narrow, conservative Christian re-interpretation of our laws, enshrining discriminatory treatment of LGBTQ people.

As many have said: we don’t all have to do everything, but we all are called now to do something. And as you act, in any way you are able, know that we are right there with you, fueled by a shared belief in the power of love and our common values of fairness and justice for all.

Yours in the struggle,

Renata Moreira

Interim Executive Director, Our Family Coalition

Civic Engagement for Families: Some Resources


Here are some creative ideas and resources for all-ages learning about social change and civic engagement.

We patterned the Fellowship Friday event on Solidarity Sundays, a nationwide network of feminist activist groups coordinating practical, focused, collective action to resist the Trump/Pence agenda. You can sign up to get information regularly, and then gather up a group of friends and make community and a difference.

You may also like to check out Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda, the short, extremely well-informed guide to civic action gathered together by congressional aides who watched the ascent of the Tea Party and their (admittedly super well-funded) local activism.

Sprung-up locally is the Bay Area Queer Anti-Fascist Network, an ad-hoc collective of groups and individuals building community and engaging in varied and direct action in the Bay Area.


Those of us with younger kids might enjoy checking out picture and chapter books about about electoral politics, social change heroes, and grassroots advocacy. We can read them to or talk with our children about them:

For older kids, consider reading chapter books together, and talking about them: Solidarity Sunday list section for Older Readers.

For kids of all ages, interesting dinner table conversations could revolve around what we each would do if we were President of the United States, or even a leader in our own immediate community, on the immediate scale of a kid’s preschool or K-6 classroom, or middle or high school.

Crafty folks can gather together sign-making materials and create signs you could put in the window of your apartment or house, or in a car, or to take to any of the ongoing opportunities to march with other citizens on behalf of community, diversity, and – among others – LGBTQ families.

Adults and older kids can make a difference on a regular basis contacting your elected officials and urging them to have the courage of their convictions (if your representative is clearly on record to take a stand on behalf of LGBTQ people). Officials on committees considering appointments represent the interests of the entire nation, so you have every right, even a responsibility to committee members with your concerns about a proposed cabinet member – for instance, Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary, who has no experience with public schools and long experience disparaging LGBTQ people and funding organizations which regard trans people as “broken” and unfit to teach.

Kids tween/ pre-tween-aged on up can be hugely invigorated making calls on a Sunday with other kids reading scripts alongside adults to phone message machines of national political figures.

You can learn about about how to locate and contact your elected officials here: help finding contact info for elected officials.

You can get ideas about daily actions you can take, simply via contacting your elected officials, here (their motto: “Resisting extremism in America, one phone call at a time.”: Daily Action

And if you would like to know why it’s more helpful to call than to email, check out this concise run-down in the New York Times last November: “Here’s Why You Should Call, Not Email, Your Legislators”.

Whatever you do, do it often, and do it together! One of the best things that can come of this challenging climate is a renewed passion for democracy.

6 Radical MLK Jr. Quotations You Didn’t Learn in School

6 Radical MLK Jr. Quotations You Didn’t Learn in School

6 Radical MLK Jr. Quotations You Didn’t Learn in School

On this Martin Luther King Jr. day, we celebrate the legacy of the iconic civil rights leader with some of our favorite quotations from his work. They ring true now in our divided, unequal country as they did the first time he spoke them. While many of us were taught a narrative of the 1960s civil rights movement as a finite, completed project that completely solved racial inequality, these words remind us how the fight for justice is ongoing and crucial.

“One of the greatest problems of history is that the concepts of love and power are usually contrasted as polar opposites. Love is identified with a resignation of power and power with a denial of love. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”  —  Where Do We Go From Here, 1967

“Why is equality so assiduously avoided? Why does white America delude itself, and how does it rationalize the evil it retains?

The majority of white Americans consider themselves sincerely committed to justice for the Negro. They believe that American society is essentially hospitable to fair play and to steady growth toward a middle-class Utopia embodying racial harmony. But unfortunately this is a fantasy of self-deception and comfortable vanity.”

—  Where Do We Go From Here, 1967

“But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear?…It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”

—  “The Other America,” 1968

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

—“Beyond Vietnam,” 1967

“The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism.”

— Speech to SCLC  Board, 1967

“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time; and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

— Letter From Birmingham Jail, 1963

New Beginnings

IMG_3991Wow. What an incredible four years these have been. During my time as Policy and Communications Director at OFC, we’ve designed and launched successful campaigns on LGBTQ parental rights, inclusive curriculum, immigration, health care, marriage equality, and more. We’ve promoted welcoming and inclusive schools across the state, expanded our capacity to offer direct support to families, and become a national resource on LGBTQ family equity. I am untranslatably proud of our team and partners.

I am also grateful to the families, legislators, volunteers, and inspiring community leaders (like our own Judy Appel) for fighting this fight so many years before our recent victories. Because of your efforts, we have been able to challenge laws that systematically stand in the way of allowing our children to thrive. Because of your dedication, LGBTQ parents like my wife and I are now protected and our children are on their way to reach their full potential. From where I stand, it is our honor and obligation as the oldest and largest LGBTQ family rights organization in CA to continue expanding our institutional change work, and deepening our policy and advocacy initiatives so we assert more influence on the national conversation for equity.

I invite you once again to get in touch, donate, and share your skills with us today! With your help, we will continue expanding invaluable school and community programs, direct support services, and pro-LGBTQ family campaigns that deeply impact our diverse communities. Your expertise, perspectives, and grit are critical to transcend the challenges ahead. I can’t wait to hear from you. We’re in this together!

Renata Moreira
Interim Executive Director