Details

Change Brings New Path to Legal Parenthood for Same-sex Couples

When Sara Watson’s partner got pregnant with their son through in vitro fertilization, they were overjoyed. Then the fear came.

They weren’t married, so Watson had no legal rights as Eli’s parent even though her eggs were used to conceive him with donor sperm. If the worst happened, Watson wondered, would she even be able to bring their baby home from the hospital?

“There was this possibility that if something were to happen to Anna, my son could end up in foster care and I hadn’t done anything wrong,” Watson said from their home in Narragansett, R.I.

Three years after the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that gave same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide , a patchwork of outdated state laws governing who can be a legal parent presents obstacles for many LGBTQ couples who start a family, lawyers say.

But things are beginning to change. A simple hospital form that has long been off limits to same-sex couples because it had room for only the “mother” and “father” is now gender-neutral in some states. That means same-sex partners in Massachusetts, Vermont and Nevada — and soon in California and Washington state — can quickly and easily secure their parental rights with the form rather than having to spend thousands of dollars in court to get an adoption.

“Kids need to be secured to their parents and we’re not getting the job done right now,” said Patience Crozier, an attorney with GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders. “Some states are and that’s incredibly powerful, and we need to keep moving in that direction.”

Big victories

Since the 2015 gay marriage ruling, same-sex couples have won some big legal victories in the arena of parental rights, such as when the high court ordered Arkansas to list both same-sex spouses on their children’s birth certificates last year.

But differing state laws still means same-sex partners who didn’t give birth can be a legal parent at home but a legal stranger to their child if they move or go on a trip, lawyers say. And the situation is even more complicated for unmarried LGBTQ couples who have children.

To guarantee their parental rights are protected across the country, many advocates encourage same-sex partners to go through with second-parent adoptions, even if they’re married and both their names are on the birth certificate. Without an adoption, the partner who didn’t give birth to the child can find herself in a lengthy and costly custody dispute if the couple breaks up or something happens to the biological mother, lawyers say.

Adoptions, however, can cost thousands of dollars and take months. And many couples choose not to because they view it as invasive and offensive that they would have to adopt their own child, said Cathy Sakimura, deputy director and family law director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

“For a lot of couples that are less well off, they just don’t bother to do it and if there is a breakup or a dispute or whatever, the nonbiological partner can wind up completely out of luck,” said Washington state Sen. Jamie Pedersen, a Democrat who pushed the bill to overhaul the state’s parenting laws.

Now advocates hope that will be a thing of the past for many same-sex couples, thanks to the hospital form that has long been used by unmarried heterosexual couples to establish who the legal father is. When an unmarried woman gives birth, the man signs a “voluntary acknowledgement of paternity” form at the hospital and files it with the state to get on the child’s birth certificate and obtain the equivalent of a court order declaring him the dad.

Huge impact’   

Now that the form will be gender-neutral in several states, same-sex partners can also establish their parental rights. In Massachusetts, only unmarried couples can use the form, while married couples can in other states.

“Everybody who gives birth can sign it for free. It should have the force of a court order in every state. That is going to have a huge impact on the recognition of parents in the future,” Sakimura said.

In Rhode Island, which hasn’t updated its laws, Watson and her partner, Anna Ford, were told they couldn’t sign the form when Ford gave birth in 2016 because Watson wasn’t a man.

So until Watson’s adoption of Eli was finalized eight months later, she had no legal link to him, creating logistical complications and fear, they said. Watson couldn’t add him to her life insurance policy and needed written permission from Ford just to pick him up from day care, she said.

“It can’t be emphasized how degrading this process has been,” Ford said. “In Psych 101, they teach you how important it is for your kid to feel safe and secure, and we were walking around feeling the opposite of that and yet trying to emanate this sense of security for our son.” (VOA)

0

Related Article

Posted on: Saturday, March 16, 2019 | By: crimeandmoreworld - News Desk

Rainbow Rage: Kyrgyz Rail Against LGBT After Central Asia’s ‘First’ Gay-Pride March

The peaceful march by some 400 people in central Bishkek on Women’s Day on March 8 promoting women’s rights and “equality for all” was fiercely criticized by socially conservative lawmakers in the predominantly Muslim country

Posted on: Friday, March 15, 2019 | By: crimeandmoreworld - Copy Editing Desk

Transgender Migrants Seek Asylum in the US

With the hope of being granted asylum, members of the LGBTQI community have been arriving at the United States border. They came along with various caravans of undocumented immigrants from Central America

Posted on: Friday, February 15, 2019 | By: crimeandmoreworld - Copy Editing Desk

Thai Transgender Candidate Runs for ‘Next Generation’

As Pinit Ngarmpring, he was a CEO and sports promoter, well known in the world of Thai soccer. Now, under her preferred new name of Pauline Ngarmpring, she’s pursuing a bid to become the country’s first transgender prime minister

Posted on: Sunday, November 25, 2018 | By: crimeandmoreworld - News Desk

Taiwanese Reject Legalizing Same-Sex Unions in Referendum

Ruling party lawmakers backed by President Tsai Ing-wen had proposed legalizing same-sex marriage in late 2016, but put their ideas aside to await the court hearing

Posted on: Friday, November 23, 2018 | By: crimeandmoreworld - Copy Editing Desk

Taiwan Voters to Decide Fate of Same-Sex Marriage Legislation

An initiative passes in Taiwan if at least 25 percent of eligible voters cast ballots and most of them are in favor. About 19.1 million people qualify to vote

Top

Privacy & Cookies: This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use.
To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: Cookie Policy more information

Privacy & Cookies: This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use.
To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: Cookie Policy

Close