Families come in a lot of different forms and sizes, including but not limited to heterosexual couples, same-sex couples, and single parents raising children. It is the love that unites these families that makes every one of them valid, despite what our society often considers “traditional families” to be.
Unfortunately, not every family is treated the same in Texas under our current adoption laws. According to Sec. 192.008 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, the “supplementary birth certificate of an adopted child must be in the names of the adoptive 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.”
While this subsection “does not prohibit a single individual, male or female, from adopting a child,” same-sex couples are not covered by the law. Consequently, children of same-sex couples are left without an accurate birth certificate, often which may affect them in registering for school or obtaining certain government documents, such as passports and Social Security cards.
State Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) and state Senator Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston) have filed companion bills in order to amend Sec. 192.008 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, allowing for the names of both adopting parents to be listed under their children’s birth certificate, regardless of their gender.
Rep. Anchia believes every Texas family should be recognized under the law:
- “Texas families come in all shapes and sizes, including those formed by adoption. An adopted child needs to have a birth certificate that accurately reflects the child’s family,“ said Rep. Anchia. “Texas laws should protect and support the rights of children and families – not hinder them.”
In regards to the bill’s legal implications, Sen. Garcia added:
- “This bill removes an unreasonable obstacle to some children getting the important legal documentation they need,“ said Senator Garcia. “A birth certificate is vital and should accurately reflect both parents. Neither these children nor their parents should be burdened with an incomplete birth certificate that omits a loving parent.”
LGBT people are allowed to adopt children in Texas, but until the laws are changed, are often forced to do so under the procedures for single parents. For same-sex couples, this leaves out one of the parents from having legal recognition over his or her children.
Texas Democrats will fight for LGBT rights this session
Texas Democrats have been busy attempting to correct the many legal injustices done against the LGBT community, having already filed numerous pro-LGBT legislation before session officially commences. This push for LGBT rights includes for the first time a joint effort by both the Senate and House in calling for a repeal of our state’s same-sex marriage ban.
Texas Democrats’ enthusiasm for LGBT rights is shared by the rest of the country. A quick look below at this picture shared by Freedom to Marry highlights what a year’s difference can make concerning LGBT rights. States colored in red now each have marriage equality laws.
The fight for LGBT rights won’t stop at marriage equality, as it is evident by our current adoption laws. But, like marriage equality, there will come a time when equality for LGBT people will truly be achievable in Texas. The legal injustices held against our LGBT brothers and sisters will cease to exist under our laws. It is important to keep this push going as we head into possibly one of the worst sessions for LGBT rights in Texas.
You can read more about LGBT family and child welfare issues by visiting Equality Texas’ site here.