The only thing more terrifying than gays serving in the military or gays wanting to get married is gays wanting to adopt unwanted children and provide a loving home for them. At least that’s true in the eyes of many Texas conservatives, who have expressed their strong moral opposition to legislation that would help to ease the process of same-sex adoption while establishing legal rights for both parents.
House Bill 415, by Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, would amend the language in the Health and Safety Code which requires that the names on the birth certificate of an adopted child must consist of one woman—the mother—and one man—the father. (Anchia filed similar legislation last session.) Obviously this prevents both members of a same-sex couple to be listed on the birth certificate, as there can only be one “father,” in the case of a male couple, or one “mother,” in the case of a female couple. The other adoptive parent cannot be listed. This gender-specific language also applies to single-parent adoption.
Although same-sex couples in Texas can still legally adopt, the birth certificate issue presents a significant hurdle. An adopted child who does not have both parents listed on the birth certificate can face many legal obstacles, such as difficulty accessing a parent’s health insurance plan if that parent is not listed on the birth certificate.
This is hardly a Texas-specific issue. In February, a federal appeals court in Louisiana (Adar v. Smith) ordered the state to issue a new birth certificate to two men who adopted a baby from the state, through a court in New York, in 2006. The couple was initially denied the document, which would have identified both men as parents, on the basis that they were not married. (I know! Why don’t they just get married?) The state attorney general is appealing the ruling. Similar rulings for gay parents and birth certificates have been issued in Oklahoma (Finstuen v. Edmondson, 2006) and Virginia (Davenport v. Little-Bowser, 2005).
Last Sunday, Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, and Anchia appeared on KXAN to discuss, among other issues, same-sex adoption, and why Heather can’t have two mommies listed on her birth certificate. During the conversation, Berman claimed that same-sex parenting can lead to bullying in school, which he considers a “GLBT issue—a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transvestite” issue.
Of course, homophobia is nothing new to the Texas GOP. According to their 2010 party platform, as shaped by Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, homosexuality should be criminalized based on the fact that it “tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous communicable diseases.” Under the platform, gay marriage would be a felony and gay adoptions would be banned. (There’s also a ban on human cloning, especially gay human cloning.)
Providing same-sex couples with an adoptive birth certificate equal to that of a heterosexual couple would bring us one step closer to treating same-sex parents and their adopted children like any other traditional family. Now that would be certifiable.