Thursday, July 23, 2009

D.C. Law is First of its Kind

According to our friends at The Bilerico Project, the D.C. City Council has just passed a landmark law that confers the status of legal parent on both lesbian mothers who plan a child using donor insemination.

The law, which can be read here, states that a person who consents to a woman's insemination with the intent to be a parent of the resulting child is a parent of the child. The law is a landmark because it is marital status-neutral and gender-neutral. The couple (gay or straight) does not need to be married or registered as domestic partners.

Until now, the birth mother's partner could become a parent only through a second-parent adoption. Under the law, a semen donor is not a parent unless he and the birth mother have an agreement in writing saying that he is. Surrogacy is illegal in DC, so this statute does not allow the name of a male partner of a biological father through surrogacy to be placed on the child's birth certificate. The partner can adopt the child in DC. The partner also may have rights and responsibilities towards the child from birth as a "de facto" parent under a different provision of DC law. The "de facto" parent provision also can apply to a lesbian couple when one mother adopts the child. For the partner of a woman who adopts a child to also become the child's parent, she must adopt the child as well.

The DC Department of Vital Records is in the process of developing a consent form. When signed by the birth mother and her partner, both names will be listed as parents on the child's birth certificate. The DC law went into effect on July 18, and a similar law will go into effect in New Mexico on January 1, 2010.

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