One of the gay couples, Jay Timmons and Rick Olson, started looking for options to have a baby since the time they got married in 2008.
When the time was right, they found a surrogate in California who bore them two daughters, C.J, 9 and Ellie, 7. Timmons would have liked more children, as he had no siblings, but was happy and felt blessed to have two children.
Friends who knew the couple well, offered to donate two embryos. Timmons and Olson, believing this to be a true gift, accepted the embryos and found a surrogate mother in Wisconsin. They were granted interim parental rights by a judge in Wisconsin. These rights would become permanent once their son was born.
It was soon after this that things went wrong. Republican Governor Scott Walker appointed a permanent judge, who objected to the original order. He removed the couple’s parental rights, terminated the surrogate mother’s rights, suggested the couple were guilty of human trafficking and ordered the baby to be made a ward of the state.
Olson left his job to take on the case that cost them thousands and to be at home for their two daughters and to care for, via the state, their son Jacob. Timmon, a vocal activist for rights of gay couples and their right to adopt, took to social media. It was via Facebook that Virginia delegate Richard Sullivan, himself a father, decided to step in.
Sullivan became the couple’s sponsor, supporting them in their right to the embryos. He worked closely with Virginia Governor George Allen, who in turn campaigned for changes to the bill. The Republicans are generally opposed to gay couples’ rights and gay adoption, but Allen made calls and encouraged members of his own party to vote for change.
The new bill now uses gender-neutral terms such as spouse instead of husband or wife and allows single people to use a surrogate. Timmons and Olson spent a fortune in their legal battle and the new bill takes away the exorbitant costs that go with the adoption process from a donated embryo.
George Allen, conservative in manner, used to oppose same-sex marriage. Today, he considers Timmons, Olson, and their three children, almost as close as his own family. Allen praised members of his party for voting with him, even though it could cost them ‘favor’ in certain politician’s eyes. To him, this matter transcends politics, but is a matter of fairness and equality.