Texas Judge Won’t List Gay Dads on Kids’ Birth Certificates
A Texas judge has denied two gay men the right to have their names placed on the birth certificates of their newborn twins, because the couple is married.
Gay Star News reports that Jason Hanna and Joe Riggs had petitioned a judge in their county to add each of their names to the birth certificates of the biological sons they fathered via a surrogate a month ago, and to second-parent adopt the boys.
But the judge refused, only placing the surrogate mother's name on the birth certificates. The twins, Lucas and Ethan, share an egg donor and are half brothers with Hanna, the father of one, and Riggs, the father of the other. Ironically, the surrogate mother CharLynn is not even biologically related to the child, due to the egg donor the couple used.
"It's a little scary because right now we don't have full parental rights over our own biological children," Hanna told Dallas station KDFW Fox 4. "I guess I expected them to be looking out for the best interest of our kids, and I felt we walked out that day and it wasn't in the best interest of our kids."
The station reports that the couple's attorney said it's likely because of the way the petition was written, with the judge saying she couldn't grant adoption at the time because she "strictly follows the law." But others believe it's because of Texas' stance on same-sex marriage.
The couple was married in Washington, D.C., but now live in Fort Worth. The New Civil Rights Movement's David Badash wrote that the reason the judge refused to put each father's name on his biological child's birth certificates was "because the men are gay and Texas does not recognize same-sex marriage. But even if they were straight, they wouldn't have to go to court to be listed as fathers -- the hospital would just automatically list them as they do every day of the year."
According to GLAAD, Texas is one of 18 states where it is unclear whether LGBT parents can jointly adopt. Some Texas judges have approved such adoptions, but until a higher court upholds a federal judge's overturning of the state's ban on gay marriage, custody issues will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
"As of right now in Texas two men cannot be on the birth certificate," Hanna told Sirius XM Progress, as reported in RawStory. "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."
Huffington Post explained that the couple's lawyer has offered them several options on bringing the petition back, changing the paperwork and the process. It remains to be seen what will happen next.
"In order to grant a second-parent adoption [automatically under current law], it has to be between two married people," said Hanna. "And so, considering we're not legally married in the eyes of Texas, they don't have to grant that second-parent adoption because they don't recognize our marriage... It's up to the judge's discretion on whether or not to grant it."