Same gender parenting rights include adoption, foster care, child custody and visitation, and surrogacy/insemination. Check what is needed so that transgender, lesbian, and gay parents enjoy equal rights...
ARTICLES ON SAME GENDER PARENTING RIGHTS
Parenting rights vary widely from state to state. Some states have statewide legislation, while others only cover some jurisdictions.
In addition, parenting rights are determined in a case by case basis.
SAME GENDER ADOPTION
Adoption is petitioned and granted on a case-by-case basis. Most states do not have explicit legislation about LGBT people being able to adopt, so these decisions are usually handled by the courts.
There are three main situations to consider in adoption:
1. Can a single LGBTQ person petition to adopt?
Florida was the only state in which there was a explicit prohibition for LGBT people to adopt, whether single, or in a relationship. An ACLU lawsuit resulted in a ruling on September 22, 2010 that such a ban was unconstitutional. On
October 12, 2010 the Florida Department of Children and Families decided
not to appeal the case. Therefore, LGBT people can now adopt legally in
the state of Florida.
2. Can a same gender couple petition jointly to adopt?
In 10 states and the District of Columbia, there are specific legislation allowing LGBT couples to adopt (California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Vermont).
In addition, in two states (Nevada and New Hampshire) same sex couples have been able to adopt in some jurisdictions.
Two states have legislation expressly forbidding same sex couples from adopting:
3. Can a member of a same gender couple adopt the child of the other member (called second parent adoption)?
Four states authorize second parent adoption in their statues (California, Colorado, Connecticut, and Vermont).
In six states and the District of Columbia, appellate courts have determined that second parent adoption is allowed for same sex couples (District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania).
In one state, Utah, legislation expressly prohibits second parent adoption:
In three states appellate courts have determined that second parent adoption is not allowed for same sex couples (Nebraska, Ohio, Wisconsin).
In the rest of the states, the law is not clear and in some cases trial courts have allowed second parent adoption.
A ban on recognition in Oklahoma of same sex adoptions from other states was challenged in Court in 2006 by Lambda Legal, who won.
>>> Check our Scorecard for the status of adoption by same gender couples on each state.
WHO TO SUPPORT AND FUND
The following organizations contribute significantly to achieve this equality goal:
- National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)
With several parental rights cases in ten states in their docket, NCLR is active in these same sex parenting and family cases, including cases of adoption, separation, child custody, and medical care.
- ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project
The ACLU has been active in protecting foster care families.
> The ACLU's Missouri case was victorious, allowing a lesbian to be a foster parent.
> The ACLU's Arkansas foster care parenting case was also victorious after being litigated for seven years, all the way to the Arkansas Supreme Court.
- Lambda Legal
Lambda Legal has litigated cases of adoption, custody, guardianship, inheritance, and equal access to infertility treatment. In May 2006, they won a case overturning an Oklahoma law (which was passed in 2004 with bypartisan support) forbidding recognition of adoptions by same-sex couples.
- Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD)
GLAD has a history of defending parenting cases in the Northeast. This is the organization that won marriage equality in Massachusetts.