The New Normal

05.09.2012, 9:44 AM

Next week in New York the major networks will announce a slate of new shows, including a sitcom on NBC that features a gay couple and their surrogate. The title: “The New Normal.”

The new normal: when we’re supposed to agree it’s ok to say a mother is not a mother but rather a “surrogate,” and that it’s ok for (wealthy) men to hire women (with little money or social power) for the use of their bodies to gestate babies.

28 Responses to “The New Normal”

  1. Chris Gable says:

    In fairness, wealthy straight couples do that as well. Elizabeth, ccan you please start reflecting the fact that vast number of women who are surrogates (and you know I don’t approve of this on a personal level) are hired by heterosexual couples.

    I’m not thrilled by some of the new normal, but please remember that “the old normal” included, on a couple occasions, my partner being stopped from seeing me, because he was “not family”, in the hospital in NYC when I had cancer less than a decade ago. (Yes.)

    I’d love to see you balance some criticism of the old normal with your zesty criticism of the new normal.

  2. Chris Gable says:

    In fact it is very very rare. Perhaps a 1,000? 1,500? gay couples a year employ a surrogate? How about some numbers?

  3. Chris Gable says:

    Would you rather me and my family was not held in esteem, Karen?

    It wasn’t so long ago that normal was that my family had no legal relationship. As D and E would say Karen, “That’s mighty cold”.

  4. Ralph Lewis says:


    For those opposed to surrogacy, it is much simpler and more persuasive to view it only through troubling stories of clinics in India than to look at its full picture here in the U.S.

    I certainly can’t speak for the experience of all, or perhaps even many of the familes who have hired surrogates to bear their children, but the two women who helped us had both 1) money and 2) social power. Neither of their families needed the funds we paid them to survive or even thrive. They were firmly middle-class women encouraged and supported by their family (including husband and kids), friends and community. We got to spend a great deal of time with them and their families long before the birth of our children, and have remained close since. Both women, as well as a few of their friends that we’ve met, speak proudly of what they chose to do. I doubt they would recognize the image you portray of them in describing your reaction to the sitcom outline.

    I’m certainly dubious about the idea of a TV show based on yucks about surrogacy, but at least if it sees the light of day, it has the possibility of widening the discussion of what surrogacy is/isn’t/should be/shouldn’t be.

  5. Chris Gable says:

    Further, maybe 2% or 3% of “homosexuals” use gamete donation to have kids. Yet, you criticize this because presumably all (that’s the way you wrote it “homosexuals are held in such high esteem”.

    So, childless gay people (the vast majority of us) ought to held in lower esteem in society because you are against, I am too btw, the practice of 2% or 3% of us?

  6. Chris Gable says:

    Interesting idea Ralph.

    Elizabeth — why not take this an opportunity to dialog with people who support surrogacy? We know we’re not going to get it outlawed So ultimately, if lowering the rate of it is your goal (and not a culture war on it) then you’ll have to talk to the people most likely to use it — and this kind of off-the-cuff critique of a show that will probably fail in the fall comes off as a bit churlish.

  7. marilynn says:

    Chris! Hey I have good news for you. I spent the first year reading this blog saying that exact same thing in response to Elizabeth’s posts. I just kinda got this feeeeelllllling that she thought it was cool for straight people to do but not for gays and lesbians and that just bugged the f out me.

    Watch the Movie Anonymous Father’s Day, in its entirety. Heck watch it a few times. She never says a word – not one word NOT ONE WORD about Gays or Lesbians she talks about this not being good for PEOPLE to do to children. And she talks in the movie a whole lot. She talks about how its not cool to just tell a child the truth and have their bio parent be a cool uncle or whatever that honesty is not enough. She talks about what sound like straight relationships but the senarios are generic enough they could apply to any couple married or not straight or not….seriously the movie erased any doubts I had about thinking she only wants to stop gays and lesbians from mating with donors but not straights. Cause I totally thought exactly that and it really was pissing me off I get worked up over stuff like that because I don’t want the marriage people trying to use people I care about as their scape goat for what I consider bgtry I know that word is off limits here but using donor offspring as a trojan horse is something that would just blow the back of my head clean off as if donor offspring had not already been used to serve the needs of others add that to the list of needs they serve…grrr.
    Anyway she is pretty quiet when I would ask directly as you have and I guess that is because she simultaneously holds these viewpoints on marriage that I’m not down with. One time she answered with pretty strong No she thought it was wrong for straights to do it as well but I needed more coddling than that and the movie does it you do need to watch it. You won’t question her on that issue once you see it and then you can have your arguements with her on marriage squarely on posts that concern marriage. Cause like you have said they are separate issues.

    I did not know the two issues were tangled by both sides of the marriage issue until I started reading this blog. Any time I comment on a post here asking for that little extra bit of balancing commentary that makes it clear gays and lesbians are not the target of the post but rather incidentals just happen to be the people raising donor offspring in that particular article…any time I ask I end up sort of dissatisfied I think it may be just her writing style so you need to watch the movie and then you can trust that she does not care who is mating with donors she thinks its a lousy thing to do to their kids even when they are told the truth and she says it clear and specific and its ballsy and brave and I really respect her straightforwardness. See the movie.

  8. Chris Gable says:

    I know Elizabeth doesn’t care whether it’s straight or gay couples.

    My point is that this seems like an attack on gay people having kids in any way — E doesn’t say though she implies with the “men paying women” comment — through adoption, etc as well.

    To me, this came off as criticizing the idea that gay couples, or even gay people on TV (as actual people not stereotypes) are seen on TV. So many friends of this blog object to that that it doesn’t seem unreasonable to assume, unless otherwise stated, that E or D do as well.

  9. Chris Gable says:

    I’d like to reiterate here, that except for the (IMO) dig at gay people, I agree with the rest of Elizabeth’s post here.

  10. Jeffrey says:

    Since most people who use surrogates aren’t rich and male and most US surrogates arent poor and socially powerless, this show only proves that cliches sell.

  11. La Lubu says:

    Let’s get real: surrogacy is not the “new normal”; it is an outlier. Furthermore, equating acceptance of surrogacy with acceptance of same-sex families or single parent families is wrongheaded—unless you mean to say that it is unethical for anyone other than married heterosexual parents to adopt, and it is unethical for all single parents to raise children (including their own biological children. After all, *all* single parents are so by choice, in that we could have chosen adoption or abortion). And that’s setting aside the idea that either same-sex families or single parent families are held in any kind of esteem.

    There’s a strong argument against paid surrogacy as being exploitative of women who have few (if any) choices for earning that kind of money. Why would you want to muck that up with an argument that says “surrogacy is bad because same-sex families and single-parent families are bad, and surrogate families have a superficial resemblance of them (in that one or both biological parents aren’t present)”. Especially when neither same-sex families nor single parent families have created nor driven this market?

    Shorter version: why alienate and insult potential allies? Or are LGBT people and single parents too odious ideologically to be allies?

  12. Chris Gable says:

    Great Karen. I’d suggest that when you denigrate gay people or make light of relationship recognition or post pieces here that denigrate gay people “in the name of balance”, you mess with my family and me.

    It goes both ways. And you know I support restrictions on gamete donation; that I’m in your court on that.

    I wish you could extend that same courtesy to me that I do to you.

  13. Chris Gable says:

    Shorter version: why alienate and insult potential allies? Or are LGBT people and single parents too odious ideologically to be allies?

    Thank you Marilynn. Karen, my sense is this what it comes down to for you and quite a few people here.

  14. La Lubu says:

    The “old normal” consisted of using the bodies of unmarried mothers as surrogates to provide babies to couples by means of coercion. Think about that while condemning single parents. The new form of surrogacy exists *because* the old form evaporated in the face of increased equality of women.

  15. Chris Gable says:

    Elizabeth, You know this link you posted is a story about increasing visibility of gay people and couples on TV in general. The picture is of Mitch and Cam from “Modern Family”.

    It leaves me wondering, You don’t say whether you oppose, or are concerned/upset by more gay characters, and depictions of adoptive gay parents and gay couples, on TV. Do you? Certainly, some of your friends and colleagues would be and have been in the past.

  16. Peter Hoh says:

    It just floors me that this “new normal” is being pushed by our culture as the “new normal” because homosexuals and single mother/father by choice families are held up in such high esteem.

    How is being the grist for humor — i.e. the basis for a sitcom — evidence that these families are held up in high esteem? I’d think the N.C. vote yesterday is an effective rebuttal to the idea that these families are held in high esteem by our culture.

    Far from being the “new normal,” these relationships are the “other” that provides fertile ground for comedy writers.

  17. Peter Hoh says:

    Here’s a story going into details about the “old normal” that LaLuba mentioned above. Link.

  18. Chris Gable says:

    Karen, only a very very small percentage of gay people use surrogacy,

    As Marilynn’s comment points out, you’ve posted offensive stuff here about gay people in general quite a few times “in the name of balance”. See can see it, I can see it, others can, you don’t seem to see it.

    I am your ally in this donation issue as you know. How about some props for that and a little respect?

  19. Chris Gable says:

    Peter — yeah, 61% of the NC electorate voting to permanently ban any type of civil union or domestic partnership doesn’t seem like any sort of “high esteem”.

  20. Chris Gable says:

    Sorry, not Marilynn but LaLubu.