Also in the news (along with the surrogacy story I just posted), is this from Texas. Andy Miller and Brian Stephens have a son Clark, who they adopted just days after he was born in 2007.
Generally speaking, Texas issues “supplemental birth certificate forms” for adoptive parents. And if Andy and Brian were male and female, they’d have a nice new certificate listing them both as parents. But Andy and Brian are not male and female–they are both men. And Texas won’t issue a new birth certificate for them. According to the Texas Department of Health Services
the supplementary birth certificate of an adopted child must be in the name of the adoptive parents, one of whom must be a female, named as the mother and the other of whom must be a male, named as the father.
(The emphasis is mine and the original is here.)
This is the same problem faced by Oren Adar and Mickey Smith in Lousiana a couple of years ago. I followed that case for a long time as it worked its way through the courts. (The link is to the last post.) Eventually the Fifth Circuit ruled in favor of Louisiana and said that it didn’t have to issue a birth certificate to the two men. Critically, the court in Adar did not say (and I do not think it could say) that Louisiana didn’t have to recognize their parental rights.
So to return to Texas, Miller and Stephens would like a birth certificate that lists them both as parents. In the absence of a birth certificate, same-sex parents end up using various legal documents (many of which are unfamiliar to the authorities that must review them.) Given Adar, same-sex parents and their supporters are not appealing to the courts in Texas. Instead, they’ve got a bill before the legislature. If enacted, it would require issuance of a birth certificate to couples like Miller and Stephens–same-sex legal parents.
I know that many people here object to the fact that adoptive parents routinely get new birth certificates, but the issue here is really one of fairness–why do some adoptive parents get them and not others? I’ll try and keep an eye out to follow along with the progress of the legislation.