Family & Relationships New Connecticut parenting bill gives LGBTQ families a sigh of relief
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When Stephanie Ocasio-Gonzalez heard that thepassed the state Senate in a late-night session on May 20 and was headed to the governor’s desk, she congratulated her wife.
“I told Denise, ‘You’re now the owner of a 14-year-old boy,’” she said.
It was a joke shared between two people who have long struggled to have their family recognized. Despite being there for their teenage son, Jayvin, for over a decade, Denise Gonzalez is still not officially.
“She bought his first bike. She was there for the first day of kindergarten and every first day of school since,” Ocasio-Gonzalez said of her wife. “She was there for his surgery, taught him math, and so much more. She's his mom.”
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Soon the state of Connecticut will recognize her as such. On Tuesday, the first day of LGBTQ Pride Month, Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, signed a ceremonial copy of the Connecticut Parentage Act into law. The measure, which was officially signed last week and takes effect Jan. 1, will make it easier for those who don’t share a biological connection with their child, like Gonzalez, to establish parentage.
“This is such an important day — what it says for our kids, what it says for Connecticut, what it says for respecting everybody and who they are,”at the signing ceremony.
Ocasio-Gonzalez and Gonzalez have been married since 2014, and they share a 2-year-old daughter, Destiny, in addition to their teenage son. Both women are on Destiny’s birth certificate, but even though they were married at the time of her birth, Gonzalez is still not considered Destiny’s legal parent outside of Connecticut.
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Denise’s parental rights are limited because she did not go through what is often referred to as a second-parent-adoption process. As a result, routine activities like taking her children to the doctor or picking Jayvin up from school have been anxiety-provoking events that require extra paperwork and preparation.
“It just took a lot more work,” Ocasio-Gonzalez said.
But the adoption process seemed daunting, she said. In addition to the costs involved, the couple worried about interacting with Jayvin’s birth father, according to Ocasio-Gonzalez.
“I read that in some cases, even though I have full custody, I would have to get the other parent to give permission, and just thinking about having to go through that was emotionally draining,” she said. “I know he would not agree to it.”
Once in effect, the Connecticut Parentage Act will allow the family, and others like them, to avoid a potentially lengthy and costly second-parent adoption.
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As a mother of two transgender children living in Tennessee, Kristin Marquardt Itnyre is terrified. On March 26, the governor, Bill Lee, signed a discriminatory bill that would require middle school and high school athletes to show proof of their assigned sex at birth, effectively banning trans youth from taking part in sports. Unfortunately, this piece of legislation is only the beginning. At least six states, including Tennessee, moved to criminalize providing gender-affirming care - which encompasses temporary puberty blockers or hormone therapy - to children who identify as transgender in 2020 alone.
This means starting Jan. 1, Gonzalez can declare her de facto parentage in court and be legally recognized as Jayvin’s parent. The process to become Destiny’s legal parent outside of Connecticut is even easier.
“The really great thing this bill does for those families is that it allows them to establish parentage through a simple administrative form,” Douglas NeJaime, a professor at Yale Law School and the principal drafter of the bill, told NBC News. The new law changes the existing acknowledgement of paternity form to an acknowledgement of parentage form, making it gender-neutral. The form “has the effect of having a judgment from a court, and all other states have to treat it as valid,” NeJaime said.
So if Ocasio-Gonzalez and her family move to another state — any other state, regardless of its parentage laws — they will both be recognized as the legal parents of their two children.
The newly enacted law makes it easier to establish parentage at birth regardless of the sexual orientation, gender or marital status of the parents and adds protections for children born using assisted reproductive technologies. The new measure also removes gender-specific language from the state’s parentage law to make every path to parentage available on a gender-neutral basis. To be inclusive of transgender parents, for example, the new law makes references to the “person” who gives birth, rather than the woman who gives birth.
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State Sen. Alex Kasser, one of the bill’s lead sponsors, called its passage a “historic and long overdue moment for Connecticut.”
“Finally all children will be given equal protection under the law, and all parents will be recognized when their child is born,” Kasser, a Democrat, said in a statement. “This bill confirms that there is no place for discrimination in Connecticut."
Variation in state parentage laws
With Lamont’s signature, Connecticut willin passing bills that update parentage laws to recognize the realities of LGBTQ families. However, many states continue to have gaps in their legislation that make the children of same-sex couples vulnerable.
For example, many states do not recognize the parental rights of nongestational parents who are not married. Only 14 states afford rights to these parents, according to the LGBTQ think tank. The other states, according to the group, explicitly recognize the nongestational parent only if the couple is married and lack clear guidelines for unmarried couples, leaving them in a legal gray zone.
“We have a lot of states that do not treat LGBT families as full members of the community, and that is the problem,” NeJaime said.
Bizarre Loophole Denying Citizenship to IVF Babies Born Abroad Is Finally Closed
In a positive development for American same-sex parents and American parents who welcome babies via IVF in other countries, the State Department will now approve U.S. citizenship for children born abroad to same-sex or heterosexual American parents via in vitro fertilization, surrogacy and by other assisted reproductive means. Announced on Tuesday, the updated application of the Immigration and Nationality Act now says that a child will be a U.S. citizen if they are born abroad to married parents and at least one of the parents is a U.S. citizen. The child also must have biological ties to at least one parent.
Connecticut’s new law is a version of the Uniform Parentage Act of 2017. The model legislation is intended to help lawmakers update laws to include LGBTQ families and those who have used assisted reproductive technology. The act, originally promulgated in 1973, was drafted by members of the, a group of experts, academics, practicing lawyers and judges, who work on model legislation for states.
Advocates already have their eyes on upcoming legislation in other states, including Massachusetts. Like Connecticut’s legislation, Massachusetts’ bill is also based on the Uniform Parentage Act.
“People are not aware that some of these core protections are still not in place,” said Polly Crozier, a senior staff attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, or GLAD.
The bill, currently in committee, would provide protection for children born through assisted reproductive technologies and through surrogacy.
Ocasio-Gonzalez said she hopes Massachusetts follows Connecticut’s lead so more families like hers can enjoy equal rights.
“We already know we are a family, and now with this bill passing, no one can tell us differently,” she said.
During LGBTQ Pride Month, TODAY is sharing the community’s history, pain, joy and what’s next for the movement. We will be publishing personal essays, stories, videos and specials throughout the entire month of June.
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12 cookbooks by LGBTQ+ authors to eat and drink with Pride .
— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. This year’s Pride festivities feel especially joyous, given that last year’s were effectively cancelled by COVID-19. After a year stuck inside, parties and dancing definitely sound like fun, but the thing I’m looking forward to most is sharing a meal in my home with my queer friends. For all your cooking and drinking needs this month (and the whole year ahead—don’t just celebrate us one month per year!), here are my favorite cookbooks from chefs, writers, and bartenders across the LGBTQ+ community. 1.