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Another First For Same-Sex Couples in the District

Lesbians in the District will no longer have to adopt children born to their partners through artificial insemination with their written consent under a new law that went into effect on Saturday.

The name of a consenting spouse or unmarried partner will appear on the child's birth certificate as the legal parent -- a status that previously had to be obtained by same-sex parents through a complicated adoption process.

The Domestic Partnership Judicial Determination Parentage Act of 2009 puts the city out front when it comes to children born of same-sex parents, according to the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington (GLAA), and American University law professor Nancy Polikoff.

"With the enactment of this measure, the District has become the first jurisdiction in the country to enact a statute specifically providing children born through artificial insemination with two legal parents from the beginning even when those parents are a same-sex or different-sex unmarried couple. A similar law goes into effect January 1, 2010 in New Mexico," according to a news release the groups issued today.

"A mother should not have to adopt her own child," said Polikoff, who helped draft the legislation that was shepherded by Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large). "When a heterosexual married couple uses artificial insemination to have a child, the husband does not have to adopt the child born to his wife. He is the child's legal parent automatically. Now the child of a lesbian couple will have the same economic and emotional security accorded the children of heterosexual married couples who use artificial insemination."

The enactment of the law follows a new law that recognizes same-sex couples married elsewhere as legally married in the District. The D.C. Council is expected to legalize gay marriage in the city later this year after legislation is introduced.

By Nikita R Stewart  |  July 22, 2009; 1:06 PM ET
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What about the process for gay men???

Posted by: crzytwnman | July 22, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I was wondering the same thing, though I'm guessing the exclusion has more to do with biology than anything else. The closest equivalent for a same-sex male couple would be surrogacy. And whereas the aim of this ruling seems to be abolish a layer of demeaning paperwork and bureacracy, I would imagine that signed documentation would actually be a source of comfort for two men accepting a chld from a surrogate mother, even if one of those men is the biological father.

Posted by: Tempy_McJobhunt | July 22, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, two men cannot give birth to their own children, so they must adopt. Surogacy is not legal in D.C.

A big thanks to Councilmember Phil Mendelson for this bill! It is a big step forward.

Posted by: bob74 | July 22, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

A concern: without a legal adoption, what will happen if said lesbian couple moves out of DC? Surely Virginia will not recognize the birth certificate as legal or the partner as a legal parent.

Posted by: dgavin1 | July 22, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

lol, "Unfortunately, two men cannot give birth to their own children,"

what is so unfortunate about that? do you wish to disintermediate your concsiousness from your body?

Posted by: kthhken | July 22, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

This is very good news indeed. One question though - "When a heterosexual married couple uses artificial insemination to have a child, the husband does not have to adopt the child born to his wife..." Isn't that because the husband is the biological father of the child, despite the insemination method? Or do I just not know enough about artificial insemination?

Posted by: susannajoy | July 22, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse


A lot of times when heterosexual couples use artificial insemination, they use a sperm donor. In those cases, the child is not biologically the husband's but he is automatically allowed to be on the birth certificate.

Posted by: mouse4 | July 22, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Ah, I see. Thanks for the clarification.

Posted by: susannajoy | July 22, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Looks like DC Lesbians have this thing licked.


Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | July 22, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Thanks DC for taking the necessary steps to secure equal rights for the LGBT community. Next step, marriage!!

Special thanks to Phil. You continue to push progressive legislation for the LGBT community. Your the best!!

Posted by: eyeheartdc | July 22, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

One less thing people have to hire lawyers for and spend huge sums on. Good.

Posted by: loveconquersfear | July 22, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

A couple of things in response to previous comments. I am quoted in the Post article, but not everything I said. Lesbian couples should still speak to a lawyer to get the best protection possible for their family, especially if they might move someday. As for gay men, one can adopt the other's child born to a surrogate mother elsewhere, but as long as DC bans surrogacy that's the best we can do. I think a careful reconsideration of our surrogacy ban is in order. Also, if the gay male couple plans for the child together and the child is turned over to the couple at birth, the bio dad's partner may be a "de facto" parent under DC law even if he does not do an adoption. This gives him an equal right to custody of the child if the couple splits up (and an equal obligation to pay child support). Hope this is helpful. More details on my blog.

Posted by: npoliko | July 22, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

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