Out of Limbo: An Interview With Kent Burbank

Kent Burbank and family scaled

Kent Burbank (left) and his family

Marriage equality for same-sex couples has come about partly through court decisions finding against states that have passed laws or constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

In Arizona, the case was Majors v. Jeanes (formerly Majors v. Horne), which included seven couples and two widowed members of couples. One of the couples in the case was Kent Burbank and Vicente Talanquer, who had adopted two sons. Since Arizona did not allow two “unrelated” individuals to adopt jointly, only one of the fathers — Vicente — had been able to legally adopt. And when the couple was legally married in Iowa, that marriage was not recognized in Arizona, meaning that Kent still could not be a legal father to his sons. Only after the decision in Majors v. Jeanes on October 17, 2014, was he finally able to adopt his sons. His family is one of the first in Arizona in which both parents in a same-sex couple were legally able to adopt their children jointly.


“Vicente became the legal father. I had to, essentially, be nothing.”


Kent Burbank, who was once on the board of directors of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, agreed to share his experiences with the adoption process, the lawsuit, and his marriage. I was very interested in interviewing him: I am also an adoptive parent, and since I adopted as a single mom, mine was also viewed as a non-traditional adoption. As we talked, I found we had experiences in common, but that some of what we faced was quite different.

Our meeting took place at the library in downtown Tucson, on January 5, 2015.

Arizona only allowed husband and wife to adopt jointly. Is that why you got involved with the lawsuit?

Our primary purpose for joining the lawsuit, speaking just for my husband and I, was about getting the ability to have both of us recognized as legal parents. When we went through the adoption process we had to do everything that a married, heterosexual couple would have had to have done — background checks, lengthy histories on both of us, statements about why we both want to adopt — and at the very end they said, “Oh, so sorry. Arizona doesn’t allow unmarried, gay couples to adopt.” Continue reading

Toward Improved Care for LGBTQ Patients: New Guidelines Shine Spotlight on Addressing Health Disparities

doctorsOn January 5, Florida became the 36th state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage, joining a movement that is sweeping across the United States. With federal judges striking down same-sex marriage bans left and right, it seems inevitable that we will soon live in a country that recognizes the freedom to marry. Yet, although more Americans than ever support marriage equality, the fight for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals in our society is not over, as they continue to face significant barriers to quality medical services.


Full equality includes access to high-quality medical care, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.


The obstacles that have historically prevented LGBTQ patients from obtaining medical care continue to plague our modern health care system. Sure, the American Psychiatric Association no longer considers homosexuality a mental illness. But a concerning number of health care providers still refuse to serve LGBTQ individuals, and until the passage of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies were not required to extend domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples. Moreover, the stigma that surrounds homosexuality prevents many patients from disclosing their sexual orientation to doctors. Because the LGBTQ community faces higher rates of certain conditions, including depression and substance abuse, failing to discuss sexual activity can lead to inadequate treatment.

One of the U.S. health care system’s most serious shortcomings is its failure to prepare doctors to work with LGBTQ patients. Young doctors are emerging from medical school ill-equipped to deal with the specific needs of the LGBTQ community. A 2006 study published in Family Medicine surveyed 248 medical students, finding that the vast majority of students held positive attitudes toward LGBTQ patients and hoped to provide them top-tier care. Unfortunately, the same group of students failed spectacularly when tested on LGBTQ-specific health concerns. Another study revealed that most medical schools throughout the United States and Canada devote minimal (if any) instructional time to LGBTQ issues, and that the quality of such instruction varies drastically across institutions. And significantly, many doctors report that they feel uncomfortable discussing sexual behavior with LGBTQ patients. Continue reading

2014: A Rundown Retrospective

2014 was a pretty not-so-stellar year in reproductive rights, if we’re being honest.

But hold your chin up. All did not suck!

While we’re never sure what new, exciting, or horrible fates await us at the dawn of a new year, rest assured that we’ll be here covering the news that matters most with regard to reproductive and sexual health, politics, gender issues, and reproductive justice well into 2015 and beyond.

Center for Arizona Policy: A Witches’ Brew of Spine-Tingling Politics and Legislation

Photo: Ryan Godfrey

For nearly 20 years, CAP has been injecting their extreme interpretations of Christian doctrine into Arizona law. Photo: Ryan Godfrey

The Center for Arizona Policy is a far-right Christian organization that was founded in 1995. According to its mission statement:

Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) promotes and defends the foundational values of life, marriage and family, and religious liberty.

Its political purpose is stated in the next sentence:

The fact is, what happens at the state Capitol impacts real lives. CAP works with state legislators and other elected officials at all levels of government to ensure that public policy promotes foundational principles.

Its founding president, and its second and current president Cathi Herrod, are both lawyers, and Herrod was a lawyer on staff before becoming president. Therefore it is no surprise that CAP is more than a lobbying group — they actually write legislation, including the vetoed SB 1062, which would have allowed businesses to refuse service to LGBTQ customers under the guise of religious freedom.

They are proud of the legislation they have written or supported over the years. A Huffington Post report from February 2014 says:

Since the group’s 1995 establishment, 123 CAP-supported measures have been signed into law, including the state’s 2008 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. That effort was spearheaded by the group’s president, Cathi Herrod. Twenty-nine bills backed by CAP have been vetoed by various Arizona governors after being passed by the state legislature.

Arizona’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was just overturned in federal court. Cathi Herrod responded to the the decision with a post on CAP’s Foundations blog.

Today, we grieve. We grieve for the children who now have no chance of growing up with a mom and a dad. We mourn the loss of a culture and its moral foundation. We mourn a culture that continues to turn its back on God and His principles.

But we do not despair. We do not throw in the towel. We do not give up.

She goes on to cite the religious right activism spawned by Roe v. Wade, and predicts a similar movement building up against same-sex marriage.

A rather terrifying thought, given the terrorism and deaths the anti-abortion movement has generated. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Fred DuVal for Governor of Arizona

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early ballots need to go out in today’s mail! Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” Make your voice heard in 2014!

Fred DuVal scaledIn recent years, many Arizonans have been rightly concerned by members of the Legislature passing bills that are overtly partisan, regressive, and extreme. As part of the executive branch of the government, one of the governor’s roles and responsibilities is to act as a check-and-balance on the Legislature: The governor can veto bills that are harmful. A governor who is consistently on the side of sexual and reproductive health care access could, at the very least, make it much more difficult for members of the Legislature to continue attacking women, the LGBTQ community, and organizations like Planned Parenthood.

Fred DuVal will be that governor. In addition to making education a fundamental platform in his campaign, Mr. DuVal has consistently placed himself in support of equal rights and meaningful health care access.

All of this is of vital importance, but none of it gets at the real reason I’m voting for Fred DuVal on November 4. During the course of this election, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with or meet a number of candidates, including the opportunity to meet Mr. DuVal twice through some campaign volunteer events organized by the Arizona Education Association. What struck me most about him was his willingness to listen — not just stop talking, but really step back and listen — to questions voters were asking or experiences they were sharing.

Put all of that together, and I know he’s the kind of person I want representing me.

Fred DuVal was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few of our questions earlier this month.


“Extremism has dominated Arizona’s political landscape for far too long.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I grew up in Tucson, Arizona. After graduating from Occidental College, I returned to Arizona, where I earned my law degree from Arizona State University. I went on to serve in Bruce Babbit’s office, helping craft our Medicaid system and bringing the highest levels of education funding in state history. I have dedicated my life to making my state a better place to live and raise a family. I intend to continue that as Arizona’s next governor. My wife Jennifer and I live in Phoenix with our 4-year-old son. Our older son, Will, attends college and is an ROTC cadet.

Outgoing Gov. Jan Brewer had a major accomplishment when she pushed through Medicaid expansion, despite opposition from within her own party. What will you do to build upon that success and ensure that every Arizonan has access to quality health care?

I applaud Gov. Brewer’s decision to continue to fund Medicaid. Arizona’s AHCCCS system has been praised as one of the best in the country, and as governor I would keep it that way. I fully intend on keeping Medicaid expansion; ensuring all Arizonans have access to high-quality, affordable health care is one of the main goals of my administration. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Felecia Rotellini for Arizona Attorney General

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early voting is already underway! Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” Make your voice heard in 2014!

felecia-rotellini scaledFelecia Rotellini is running for Arizona attorney general. The role of Arizona’s attorney general is to serve as chief legal officer on behalf of the state of Arizona. She boasts nearly 30 years of prosecutorial experience, including in her current role as a prosecutor for a private law firm in Phoenix and her previous position as superintendent of the State Banking Department in Arizona under Gov. Janet Napolitano.

Ms. Rotellini’s opponent is Mark Brnovich, who publicly spoke out in favor of businesses instead of people during the case of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, which eventually allowed businesses to exclude contraception from the health insurance plans they provide their employees on the grounds of religious beliefs. Putting faith before the law, Brnovich has made clear his intention to legally protect every demographic but women when he states, “Whether that be protecting the rights of the unborn, children, seniors, or our veterans, we have a solemn obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves. My faith and my experience as a prosecutor teaches me that.” Brnovich goes further in implying that he feels no obligation to protect and defend laws that concern women when he specifies: “We also have an obligation to protect and defend our laws that concern the unborn.”

Ms. Rotellini takes a broader approach to inclusiveness as she seeks to uphold the law to protect all Arizonans, including members of the LGBTQ community. As Arizona’s attorney general, she pledges to “support equal protection under the law for one and all, with no exceptions.”

Ms. Rotellini was kind enough to speak with us on October 28, 2014.


“I’m disappointed that my opponent supports a new version of SB 1062 to legalize discrimination against LGBT individuals.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I have lived in Arizona for 28 years; I’ve been a practicing attorney for 28 years. Eleven of those have been in the private sector as a litigation attorney, and 17 of those years as a public lawyer. I worked as a prosecutor in the attorney general’s office for 13 years in both the civil and criminal divisions from 1992 to 2005. And then I ran the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions as superintendent in the cabinet of Gov. Napolitano and also Gov. Brewer. I was in that job from 2006 to 2009. Over 17 years, I was in uninterrupted public service. I had the opportunity to work primarily in financial fraud, consumer fraud, and senior fraud.

I have had some very big cases. Because of my background as a trial lawyer, I did jury trials in my civil practice from 1986 to 1992. I was the lead lawyer for the state against Arthur Andersen, the accounting giant, for the failed audits of the Baptist Foundation of Arizona, where there were 11,000 investors who lost their retirements, and we were able to return $217 million to the victims, mostly working-class and senior citizens. Continue reading

TIED! DuVal and Ducey TIED With Two Weeks Until Election Day!

The following guest post comes to us via Kelley Dupps, political engagement coordinator for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

fred-duval

Fred DuVal trusts women.

Tea Party Republican Doug Ducey acknowledged this weekend that despite all of the support from the Koch brothers, he and his Democratic opponent, Fred DuVal, are tied in the polls with two weeks left until Election Day. This revelation comes on the heels of the marriage equality court case decision on Friday.

We’ve all heard about the issues in this campaign — education, jobs, veterans — and we can all agree that these are important issues that will face the next governor of Arizona. But it’s what we haven’t heard that really sets these two candidates apart: women’s health. We have yet to hear from Mr. Ducey how he believes that the government should ban abortion in all cases — even those cases of rape, incest, or health of the mother. And that is just the start of Mr. Ducey’s long list of how he doesn’t trust women, or their families, and how he would like the government to intrude into people’s lives.

Women’s health and reproductive justice have barely been a blip on the screen. This is unfortunate because reproductive rights are the single largest set of issues distinguishing the candidates. Doug Ducey has installed Cathi Herrod from an extreme lobbying group, Center for Arizona Policy, as a key adviser on his campaign. Though he has tried to sell himself as a “moderate,” he seeks the advice of Ms. Herrod, who has been behind heinous discriminatory bills — such as this year’s SB 1062, widely regarded as an attack on the LGBTQ community — that have made our state a laughingstock. Continue reading