Family Equality Now

[Content Note: Homophobia; child endangerment.]

This is absolutely rage-making: Jason Hanna and Joe Riggs are a gay couple who live in Texas, who are the fathers of twin sons born by surrogate. Each of the boys is the biological son of one of their fathers.

But because Texas still does not have legal same-sex marriage, and does not recognize Hanna's and Riggs' marriage in DC, a court is preventing them from putting their names on their children's birth certificates.
[B]ecause a judge can use his or her own discretion in these cases, neither of the men is currently on the birth certificates of either of the boys, nor have they been able to co-adopt each other's biological child.

Only the surrogate mother — who has no biological relationship to the boys, since embryos were transferred to her — is on the birth certificates. In essence, the men are not legally defined as the parents of their own children. And though they have DNA tests for proof, they're worried, particularly if something were to happen to one of them while the other still has not been able to co-adopt the other's biological child.

"As of right now in Texas two men cannot be on the birth certificate," Jason Hanna explained in an interview with [Michelangelo Signorile] on SiriusXM Progress. "So our attorney followed the letter of the law. We petitioned the court. We had DNA testing there [in court] and petitioned the judge to ultimately remove the surrogate mother from the birth certificate, who has no biological ties to the boys. We would like each biological dad to be placed on the birth certificate of our own son, and then ultimately proceed to the second-parent adoption. The entire petition was denied."

...It was particularly jarring to Hanna and Riggs because other gay couples in Texas, including friends of theirs, have successfully completed this process.

...Hanna and Riggs worry, as they wait for the next step, because they're in a scary legal limbo.

"Without [co-adoption], if something happened to either me or Joe we don't have any legal recourse to keep the other's biological child," Hanna said. "The state could come in and separate these two brothers…We want to reiterate how important it is for a state to recognize each family, whether it's same-sex or opposite-sex, and really to ensure everyone has equal protection from the state."
Where are the conservatives to yell about "activist judges" now? It doesn't get more "activist" than being empowered to decide the fate of an entire family at your own discretion.

I don't know how the judge can legally rationalize denying even putting the biological fathers' names on their individual sons' birth certificates.

(Also, not for nothing, although this story doesn't address how the surrogate feels about being on the birth certificates, aside from its being clear she didn't advocate for it, I know there would be a lot of surrogates who explicitly would not want their names there, for various reasons.)

There are so many concerns about this cruel ruling. Among them is the possibility that, because of nothing but rank homophobia, one or both of these boys could end up in foster care if something happens to one of their dads.

Legally structuring parental rights (or lack thereof) to increase the possibility that a child would end up in state custody, in a system that fails a whole lot of kids and exposes many of them to profound trauma, is child endangerment. I can't put it any more bluntly than that.

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