June 1, 2017
There is nothing more important than the security of children.My younger daughter loves the book “Everywhere Babies.” She is 5, but it is a board book that never goes out of style, particularly for a kid who loves babies. The writing is funny, and the pictures are vibrant and engaging. It is one of my favorites, too, because it so expressively shows every kind of family, including LGBTQ families, experiencing the joys (and challenges) of caring for children. I am a family lawyer by training, and I work on family law issues at GLAD. One of the privileges of doing family law work in the LGBTQ community is experiencing the great diversity of our families. Single parents. Adoptive parents. Step-parents. Known donors. Surrogacy. Four-parent families. There is no “right” or “traditional” way to create or raise a family in our community, and we are all the richer for it, particularly our kids, who know, from the outset, that love is love. Protecting our children legally can sometimes be a forgotten step. Time, money, and fear can get in the way and divert us from the important task of securing our children’s parental relationships.
An important area of GLAD’s work has been finding ways to make legally secure relationships more accessible to all families. An example is our family law work in Massachusetts, where protecting children of never-married parents just became easier.In GLAD’s recent case, Partanen v. Gallagher, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that never-married same-sex couples can be legal parents under the parentage statutes just like different-sex couples. Parents who are not married can sign voluntary acknowledgments of parentage in the hospital when a child is born, to establish that the partner is the other legal parent. And, a non-biological parent can go to court and ask the court to establish them as an equal, legal parent (as opposed to a de facto parent). For families where a child was born to the couple through assisted reproduction and where the couple jointly held the child out as their own, they now have access to the courts to establish their parentage and to have all the rights and responsibilities of legal parentage. There is nothing more important than the security of children, and Massachusetts has now made it easier to safeguard those relationships. GLAD is working throughout New England, and with our partners throughout the country, to ensure that no children are penalized and that all families are recognized no matter how their families were formed. On a day for celebrating LGBTQ children and families, let’s also make a collective promise to protect our children legally. For referrals to legal help in New England or if you are experiencing problems establishing your parentage as a never-married parent, please call GLAD Answers, our legal information line, at 800-455-GLAD or visit our website at www.GLADAnswers.org. We want to help.