Houston woman claims gay couple duped her into being a surrogate

Cindy Close

A Houston woman has filed a lawsuit after she gave birth to twins in July for a man who now says she served as a surrogate for him and his partner.

Houston businessman Marvin McMurrey III and Cindy Close met in 2005 and were both in their forties.

They’d never been married and never had sexual relations with each other, but wanted children. So, over time they decided to become co-parents, Houston’s Fox 26 reports.

McMurrey fertilized a donor egg through in vitro fertilization and Close carried the child, which turned out to be twins. But after delivering a girl and boy in July, a social worker informed her that she’d been a surrogate for McMurrey and his partner Phong Nguyen.

Close said she has trusted McMurrey since the time they met and was shocked he was gay and using her to have children, when she’d wanted kids so badly.

“I’ve always wanted to be a mom,” Close told Fox 26. “I wanted to raise children. That’s my biggest dream and it always has been.”

Close was prevented from breast feeding in twins in the hospital and is also granted two hours of visitation a day.

She’s filed a civil lawsuit and says she doesn’t have to prove she’s the mother, but that McMurrey must prove that she was a surrogate.

Watch Fox 26’s coverage below.

Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston

—  Dallasvoice

UT finds no scientific misconduct in professor’s gay parenting study

Mark Regnerus

The University of Texas has completed its inquiry into the gay parenting study of professor Mark Regnerus, finding no grounds for a formal investigation.

The university released a statement Wednesday, explaining that the process included hiring a private consultant who is a former associate director of the Office of Research Integrity in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He found that the inquiry was “handled in a manner consistent with university policy” and adhered to federal requirements.

Regnerus of UT’s department of sociology and the Population Research Center conducted the study that was released in July. He examined children living in stable, two-parent heterosexual households for his control group and analyzed a mixture of children raised by gays and lesbians, including those who had a parent in a same-sex relationship but didn’t live with that parent.

His findings were that children of same-sex parents had more unstable lives, leading to an outrage in the LGBT community, many of whom called the study flawed because the study had set back years of positive research on LGBT families.

It was later revealed that The Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation funded the study. Both are known for their support of conservative causes.

The university launched an inquiry into possible scientific misconduct and to find if Regnerus had an inappropriate relationship with the foundations funding the study after The New Civil Rights Movement writer Scott Rose raised concerns. Rose published his analysis on the study’s corruption Wednesday.

The university’s statement mentioned Rose’s accusations but found them unwarranted for an investigation.

“As required by its Revised Handbook of Operating Procedures, the university conducted an inquiry to determine whether the accusations made by writer Scott Rose had merit and warranted a formal investigation. After consulting with a four-member advisory panel composed of senior university faculty members, the Office of the Vice President for Research concluded in a report on Aug. 24 that there is insufficient evidence to warrant an investigation.

“Provost and Executive Vice President Steven Leslie accepted the report on Tuesday and deemed the matter closed from an institutional perspective.”

Regnerus told the Austin American-Statesman that he was pleased with the inquiry’s findings.

“I think it’s a just and wise decision, and I’m certainly pleased with it,” Regnerus told the he told them in an email. “It was a thorough and fair process, and conducted professionally.”

—  Dallasvoice

Research publication refers gay UT parenting study to ethics committee for investigation

The controversial UT study about gay parenting that many LGBT groups have labeled as flawed has been referred to a publication ethics committee.

The study was published in the science journal Social Science Research in early June. The publisher of the journal, Elsevier, received a complaint from a person, who also emailed Instant Tea this week, stating “that Regnerus’s study does not make a valid comparison and therefore is not sociologically valid.” The study will be investigated by the Committee on Publication Ethics.

In addition, the University of Texas will look into the study to determine whether it lacked scientific integrity. However, it is not a formal investigation, but an inquiry to determine if an investigation should follow, Director of Public Affairs David Ochsner told Instant Tea.

Ochsner said the university “received an allegation of scientific misconduct.”

“It is our policy that any time a formal allegation of scientific misconduct is made, a process of inquiry is begun within the Office of the Vice President for Research,” he said. “An ‘inquiry’ is a preliminary fact-finding exercise to determine if there is a basis for an investigation. An inquiry in itself is only an acknowledgement that a formal allegation has been made and is not evidence of wrongdoing.”

Mark Regnerus of UT’s department of sociology and the Population Research Center conducted the study. Regnerus examined children living in stable, two-parent heterosexual households for his control group and analyzed a mixture of children raised by gays and lesbians, including those who had a parent in a same-sex relationship but didn’t live with that parent.

The Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation funded the study. Both are known for their support of conservative causes. The Witherspoon Institute has ties to the Family Research Council, the National Organization for Marriage and ultra-conservative Catholic groups like Opus Dei.

—  Dallasvoice

UT agrees to investigate professor’s flawed study that found children of gay parents are worse off

Mark Regnerus

The University of Texas at Austin is launching an investigation into a flawed parenting study that found children of straight couples have better lives.

Mark Regnerus of UT’s department of sociology and the Population Research Center conducted the study. Regnerus examined children living in stable, two-parent heterosexual households for his control group and analyzed a mixture of children raised by gays and lesbians, including those who had a parent in a same-sex relationship but didn’t live with that parent.

The Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation funded the study. Both are known for their support of conservative causes. The Witherspoon Institute has ties to the Family Research Council, the National Organization for Marriage and ultra-conservative Catholic groups like Opus Dei.

The study gained enormous negative backlash from the LGBT community, including groups like the Family Equality Council, the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Marry and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation, after it was discovered that right-wing organizations helped fund the project.

UT’s investigation will determine whether the study lacked scientific integrity and whether Regnerus had unprofessional relationships and gained from the study’s backers.

—  Dallasvoice

Dallas dad Cooper Smith of J.C. Penney ad fame writes heartfelt op-ed about Father’s Day gift

Cooper Smith, right, and Todd Koch were special guests Gay Bingo in the Rose Room on Saturday, June 16.

While many dads may have had the normal joys of fatherhood to celebrate Sunday, Dallas dads Cooper Smith and Todd Koch celebrated the public’s support for their family, which was featured in J.C. Penney’s June catalog.

Smith wrote an op-ed about the experience, highlighting the “gift of overwhelming love and support” that he and Koch received this Father’s Day.

The ad has made international news, leading to hundreds of supportive messages from gay and straight couples, Smith writes in the piece published on The Advocate’s website:

While we had no hesitation in doing the ad itself, we initially girded ourselves for a negative backlash. To our surprise, the response to our famiy has been overwhelmingly positive — shockingly positive, in fact.

We’ve received hundreds of emails, Facebook posts, Twitter comments and cards in the mail from everyone from long-lost friends and classmates to complete strangers in remote parts of the United States and beyond, each filled with heartfelt sentiments of support and acceptance. We’ve even heard from celebrities and other public figures.

Sure, there have been some pretty hateful comments and notes, too. But they’re nothing we haven’t heard our whole lives. More importantly, they’ve been eclipsed at least 100-to-1 by the positive ones.

Smith and Koch were special guests at Gay Bingo in the Rose Room on Saturday, where they spoke about the flood of media attention. CNN featured the family in a segment Friday, focusing on advertisers’ inclusion of same-sex couples lately from J.C. Penney’s lesbian couple in May to Gap and travel agencies. Smith said in the CNN interview that he thinks it is the first time gay dads have been featured with their children in an ad by a national company. Watch the segment below. The couple was also interviewed by The New York Times last week but that article has yet to be published.

—  Dallasvoice

WATCH: Gay Dallas dads Cooper Smith, Todd Koch discuss J.C. Penney ad on Daybreak

Dallas dads Todd Koch and Copper Smith with their two children, Claire and Mason, on WFAA's Daybreak on Tuesday morning.

After J.C. Penney’s June catalog hit mailboxes last week, Dallas gay couple Cooper Smith and Todd Koch have been in the middle of attacks made by One Million Moms.

In May, a lesbian couple was featured in the Mother’s Day issue, sparking another boycott from One Million Moms. The group is affiliated with the American Family Association and has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The group stated on its website last week that the public should send back the catalogs until J.C. Penney stops going “down the same path of promoting sin in their advertisements.”

The couple appeared on Daybreak with their two children this morning to discuss the negative attention and the positive support they’ve received.

“We expected some of it. We didn’t expect to go unnoticed at all,” Smith said on Daybreak. “We certainly didn’t expect the newspapers in London and all over the world to be calling and emailing and writing about this.”

Koch said the “support has been overwhelming positive” from family and friends.

In response to whether the ad reflects a new movement or the modern family, Smith said the ad “just reflects our life. We care about the exact same things any other parents care about. Are our kid safe, are they happy, are they getting to school on time and have they eaten lunch yet?”

Smith previously told Instant Tea he and Koch were asked about the One Million Moms situation before they agreed to be in the catalog in February. He said the couple was not fazed by the possible criticism and embraced representing diverse families.

“Obviously we’re not ashamed of our family,” he said. “It’s very tastefully done.”

Watch some of the news coverage below.

—  Dallasvoice

One Million Moms attacks J.C. Penney’s Father’s Day ad featuring gay Dallas couple and their kids

Dallas couple Todd Koch and Cooper Smith are seen here with their two children in J.C. Penney’s June catalog.

Dallas couple Todd Koch and Cooper Smith and their two children are featured in the June edition of J.C. Penney’s catalog.

Smith said he was asked by a casting agent in Dallas in early February to be in the Father’s Day issue after the agent saw his family’s Christmas photo on Facebook.

They agreed and did a photo shoot in Addison shortly afterward. He said the picture is very natural with the kids, Mason, almost 3, and Claire, 3, running around and having a fun time.

“The photo is just a one-second photo of our life,” Smith said. “It’s a candid moment of how we interact with each other.”

The ad features Koch and Smith in a relaxed home setting playing with their two children under the words “First Pals.” The text reads, “What makes Dad so cool? He’s the swim coach, tent maker, best friend, bike fixer and hug giver – all rolled into one. Or two.” The text at the bottom right-hand corner reads, “Real-life dads, Todd Koch and Cooper Smith with their children Claire and Mason.”

Smith said the agents were seeking a variety of families for the issue, but they are the only gay family featured.

“They were just trying to present a wholesome gay family and I guess we fit the bill for that,” he said. “They’re really trying to represent what America looks like, and that’s not just heterosexual white people.”

The company’s inclusion of a lesbian couple with their daughters and one of the women’s mothers in the May issue sparked the anti-gay hate group One Million Moms to reactivate a boycott of the store. The unsuccessful boycott had been dropped in March after J.C. Penney stood firmly behind its hiring of lesbian comedian Ellen DeGeneres as a company spokeswoman.

Smith said they were asked about the OMM situation before they agreed to be included, but he said it was not an issue.

“Obviously we’re not ashamed of our family,” he said. “It’s very tastefully done.”

Catalogs started going out Wednesday, and One Million Moms responded Thursday, writing on the group’s website that J.C. Penney is “continuing down the same path of promoting sin in their advertisements.”

The group urges the public to return the catalogs in protest, as well as call and email the company.

“It is obvious that JCP would rather take sides than remain neutral in the culture war. JCP will hear from the other side so they need to hear from us as well,” OMM’s statement reads online. “Our persistence will pay off! One day we will answer for our actions or lack of them. We must remain diligent and stand up for Biblical values and truth. Scripture says multiple times that homosexuality is wrong, and God will not tolerate this sinful nature.”

The full statement is below.

—  Dallasvoice

Zach Wahls, his moms on parenting forum today

Last winter, I posted a link to this video of 19-year-old Zach Wahls, who spoke persuasively about having gay parents. Since it went viral, Zach has written a book called My Two Moms about his family and has become something of a celebrity.

Today at 1:30 p.m. Central, Zach and his moms with participate in an online forum with In the Life Media about gay parenting. You can access it by going to the website here, or watch the video below to see what you might be missing.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: ABC’s ‘What Would You Do?’ on gay parenting at Norma’s Cafe in Farmers Branch

Last week we told you about Friday night’s episode of What Would You Do? filmed in part at Norma’s Cafe in Farmers Branch. The third segment of the ethical-dilemma, hidden-camera show focused on gay parenting and involved a waitress — an actress — saying hateful things to two same-sex couples, also actors and actresses, who are dining with their kids at Norma’s.

“You’re gay and you have kids?” the waitress says to the first couple, two women. “It’s bad enough that you’re lesbians, but that they don’t have a father, I think that’s kind of bad. … I mean isn’t it bad for the kids?”

Remarkably, or perhaps not, two male customers who overhear the waitress’ statements take bold stands against her.

“You are by far the worst waitress I’ve ever seen in this restaurant,” the first man says. “You’re a horrible person and a horrible waitress. You need to leave. You need to physically leave this restaurant right now.”

—  John Wright

ABC’s ‘What Would You Do?’ to air gay parenting episode shot at Norma’s Cafe in Farmers Branch


Looks like you may want to tune in to ABC’s What Would You Do? on Friday night.

That’s when the hidden-camera, ethical-dilemma series airs an episode about gay parenting shot at Norma’s Cafe in Farmers Branch:

An actress hired by What Would You Do? is waiting tables at a local family style diner, Norma’s Café in Farmers Branch, Texas. It’s a typical busy morning for her until our actors portraying the role of a gay couple — first females, then males — dining with their children are seated in her section. As she begins to express her discomfort and probe their parenting skills, other diners begin to take notice. Will these patrons take the side of our waitress or will they defend the unconventional family?

According to ABC, the actress playing the waitress tells the gay parents, “I mean it’s bad enough you’re lesbians but you’re also parents and they don’t have a father. I think that’s kind of bad. I think this is terrible. I think they need a Dad!”

ABC hasn’t posted any footage from the episode but does provide us with a sneak preview of bystanders’ responses to the waitress, which are surprisingly supportive of the gay parents for a city led by Timothy O’Hare:

“I’ve never felt so uncomfortable and so beside myself with anger. You are a horrible person and a horrible waitress, and you need to leave.”

“You’re the hate monster.”

“This is not the place for a political debate. This is a place for you to do your job.”

“You are not king. You are not God. You have no choice. You have no place to put anybody in their place.”

“It’s about the quality of the parents and the love that there is in the home more than it’s having a mom and a dad.”

What Would You Do? airs at 8 p.m. Central on Friday.

—  John Wright