New York state has had a ban on paid surrogacy since 1992, after the gestational carrier of “Baby M” refused to surrender her. In 2011, Senator Brad Hoylman (D-NY) and his husband David Sigal got around the ban by finding a surrogate in California. The week of February 17, Hoylman became the state Senate sponsor of a bill seeking to repeal the ban.
Due to the expense—commonly $100,000 or more, including medical and legal fees—the path to parenthood via paid surrogacy has mostly been reserved for the rich and certain celebrities. However, as the common view on what makes a family has expanded, it has grown in popularity, especiall among gay men.
It’s still not cheap by any means. Speaking to the New York Times, Hoylman said, “You basically have to take out a loan to have a child.” However, supporters of the bill say that between New York’s multiple fertility clinics and thriving LGBT community, if paid surrogacy is legally available, the currently staggering figure could be reduced. It would certainly be cheaper than it currently is in the state if travel costs could be taken out of the equation.
Initially, Hoylman and Sigal, now in their late forties, hadn’t planned on having children, but Sigal told the Times that there came a point when they said, “well, what else is there?” They looked into their options, but they “were shocked that you couldn’t do surrogacy in New York.”
Hoylman added, “It was also surprising that it was so readily available in California.” The state proved to be their perfect choice; he added, “The amazing thing about the California law is that both my husband and I are on the birth certificate as the parents.” The proposed New York legislation would allow the same option.
There are many surrogate mothers looking to work with gay partners. The owner of A Perfect Match, Darlene Pinkerton—the agency in San Diego that Hoylman’s family went through—explained, “Most of my surrogates want same-sex couples.” Women who choose to use surrogates have usually struggled with fertility issues first; thus, they may feel grief and jealousy over the situation, potentially impacting their relationships with the surrogate. It’s a different story with gay men, which means “the experience is really positive for the surrogate.”
Pinkerton’s own husband Tom, a lawyer who works with third-party reproductive issues, mentioned that there’s another bonus: “Imagine instead of just having one husband doting on you, you have three guys now sending you flowers.”
Now three, Silvia Hoylman-Sigal has not only brought joy to her fathers, but she’s even had a positive impact on Hoylman’s political career. He reported that views on his Facebook page “spike” when he puts up pictures with Silvia.
As Sigal put it, he’s now a “family man.”
Hoylman said, “It’s a funny phrase. This is what it takes for people to relate to you.”