Thursday, November 15, 2012

HB 201: Accurate Birth Certificates

Rep. Rafael Anchia
It is standard practice for courts to issue “supplemental birth certificates” that reflect the names of the adoptive parents of a child. This is done because birth certificates are the primary document for establishing the parental relationship and are often required to enroll children in school, add them to the parent’s insurance policy or admit them for medical treatment. Current Texas law states that supplemental birth certificates contain two fields for 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."

It is perfectly legal in Texas for two men or two women to be the parents of a child. Adoption is about the relationship between parents and their children, not about the relationship between the parents, so Texas' lack of the freedom to marry has no affect on adoption law. From the perspective of the law two people of the same sex who have a child together are simply two single people with a child, in the same way that two people of the opposite sex who have a child together but who are not married are simply two single people with a child.

There are thousands of same-sex couples who are raising children together (20% of same-sex couples in Texas are raising children, according the 2010 Census), but those parents are unable to obtain the primary document used to prove the parent child relationship.

House Bill 201, by Rafael Anchia (D - Dallas), corrects this problem by deleting the requirement in the Family Code that one parent must be male and one must be female.

Anchia has been filing this legislation for nearly a decade. His version during the last session, HB 415, received a powerful hearing in the House Public Health Committee last session, with several parents of small children testifying about the need for the bill. Unfortunately the bill was never brought up for a vote in the committee.

The House Public Health Committee is chaired by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R - Brenham), who is expected to retain her chairwomanship during the upcoming session. 89% of Texas voters believe that "gay and lesbian parents should have the same legal rights with respect to their children." With the overwhelming public support for this bill it is hard to believe that it would not pass a vote of the entire 150-member House, were the House given the opportunity, but first Rep. Kolkhorst must grant HB 201 a hearing, and allow it to come up for a vote in committee.

If you live in Rep. Anchia's district call him at (214) 943-6081 and thank him for for filing HB 201.

If you live in Rep. Kolkhorst's district call her at (979) 251-7888 and ask that HB 201 receive a prompt hearing and committee vote once the legislature reconvenes in January.

If you don't know who represents you go here to find out. 

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