Rich-Vaughn-Blog-D&G-EltonJohn

Dolce & Gabbana Celebrate Mothers, But Only the ‘Right Kind’

It’s hard to imagine what Italian fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana were thinking when they not only spoke out against gay adoption but spoke of the children born via assisted reproductive technology in the most hurtful and dehumanizing terms possible. You would think a couple of jet-setting multimillionaires whose high-profile label is seen on red carpets and catwalks worldwide could spring for the assistance of a good PR firm.

In a recently published interview with the weekly Italian news magazine Panorama, the designers, who are themselves gay and who were in a romantic relationship for more than two decades, said, “The only family is the traditional one … No chemical offsprings and rented uterus: Life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed,” according to an English translation of the published interview. Dolce added, “You are born to a mother and a father—or at least that’s how it should be. I call children of chemistry, synthetic children. Uteri [for] rent, semen chosen from a catalog.”

The reaction on social media and in news headlines was instantaneous. While conservative Italian politicians defended the designers’ right to their opinions, the majority of the celebrity and affluent patrons who have made the pair rich by purchasing and promoting the Dolce & Gabbana brand expressed outrage. Most visibly, Elton John, who with spouse David Furnish is dad to two sons born via in vitro fertilization and surrogacy, took to Instagram in response, launching a #BoycottDolceGabbana campaign that quickly went viral. “How dare you refer to my beautiful children as ‘synthetic.’ And shame on you for wagging your [judgmental] little fingers at IVF—a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to [fulfill] their dream of having children,” John posted.

The designers have raised waves before: in 2006 Gabbana said in an interview that he opposed allowing gay couples to be parents. In the wake of Elton John’s boycott post and the groundswell of criticism, the designers, while defending their rights to express their opinions, also seemed to be trying for a softer approach.

Dolce released a statement saying, “it was never our intention to judge other people's choices. We do believe in freedom and love,” and “I am very well aware of the fact that there are other types of families and they are as legitimate as the one I've known.”

Too little too late, it seems, judging from the growing list of outraged celebrities condemning the designers’ remarks.

There have always been gay and lesbian people who oppose same-sex marriage for a variety of reasons: they feel it’s not an issue worth spending resources on, they see marriage as a heterosexual institution, or same-sex marriage doesn’t mesh with their personal religious beliefs. For the most part those differences of opinion have been accepted within the LGBT community.

The D&G comments seemed to come from a very different place. To state that gay and lesbian people should not be parents seems not only punitive but also implies gay and lesbian people are not fit to raise children. A growing body of research contradicts that assertion. In fact, an Australian study published in the Washington Post last summer found that children of same-sex parents were happier and healthier than their peers.

But the designers’ opposition to gay parenting aside, the fact is the majority of people who create families via ART are not gay or lesbian; most are straight people who for a whole range of reasons are unable to conceive. Many got caught in the societal trend of waiting longer to marry and start families; time and age caught up to them, and ART offered them the chance to have the families they dreamed of. Others turn to ART because of infertility caused by medical conditions or tragic accident.

All were tarred with the same brush by Dolce and Gabbana. To describe people’s most precious possessions—their cherished children, who in many cases they sacrificed greatly to conceive—as “chemical offspring” and “synthetic” is mind-blowing, to say the least. Even Today Show co-anchor Al Roker—Al Roker!—took to Twitter in response: “In spite of what @dolcegabbana think, my beautiful IVF children are not ‘synthetic children,’” he wrote.

Adding irony to incredulity at the obtuseness of D&G’s seemingly clueless insults, the pair’s Fall-Winter 2016 line, rolled out last month at Milan Fashion Week, is themed “Viva la mamma,” a celebration of pregnancy and motherhood. Models carrying babies or displaying belly bumps walked the catwalk in D&G couture. Motherhood and family are wonderful things to celebrate. It’s just too bad that in the designers’ minds, not all mothers and families are created equal.

Rich Vaughn
Richard Vaughn
rich@iflg.net

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
PEIYA WANG(王培娅)
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya received her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Technologies and Business University, where she majored in Marketing. She moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeast University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa
LUIS SOSA
Paralegal

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes
TONI HUGES
Paralegal

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

Miesha Cowart
MIESHA COWART
Financial Coordinator

Miesha Cowart joined IFLG as a financial specialist in 2014 following a successful career in development and business finance. Miesha previously worked for 10 years in the construction industry as a controller and for 13 years as Development Coordinator for the non-profit U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her free time, Miesha works with “Next Generation” at her church. “They are my heartbeats!” she says of the youth in her community.

Kim
KIM DEVEREAUX
Paralegal

Kim has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager of surrogacy and egg donation cases, and is also responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn
RICHARD B. VAUGHN
Founder

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo
ELIZABETH TAMAYO
Paralegal

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien
SUNNY CHIEN
Paralegal

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

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Molly O'Brien
MOLLY O'BRIEN
Partner

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.