A family court judge in Texas has ruled that two fathers, a legally married same-sex couple who each biologically fathered one of two twin boys, cannot have their names appear on their own children’s birth certificates. The judge handed down his decision just days before Father’s Day. Jason Hanna and Joe Riggs married last year in Washington, D.C. While the federal government recognizes their legal civil marriage, the Lone Star State does not.
Jason and Joe worked with a surrogate mother — not the egg donor — and each parent biologically fathered one of two eggs, making Lucas and Ethan, their twin boys, biological half-brothers. The married couple want to make them their legal children — a desire so basic it would be unquestionable if they were a different-sex couple. But Texas says not only can each father not jointly-adopt their spouse’s biological child, even their own child cannot have their biological father’s name on their birth certificate.
“Fatherhood is absolutely amazing,” Jason told their local Dallas-Fort Worth Fox TV station. “We have been blessed with two healthy little boys.”
But not with a state government that understands same-sex couples deserve all the same rights and responsibilities as every other legally-married couple.
“On one hand, it’s a little scary because as of right now, we don’t have full parental rights of our own biological children,” Jason told the Fox station.
“Actually, I think that’s what surprised me the most was a family court,” said Riggs. “I guess I expected them to be looking out for the best interest of our kids, and I felt we walked out that day and it wasn’t in the best interest of our kids.”
“Ultimately, we’re talking about is what’s better: one parent or two parents?” said Riggs. “For me, it’s two parents. It’s a no brainer!”
Fortunately, GLAAD is getting involved.
“Neither Jason nor Joe are listed as fathers on either of their sons’ birth certificates, which the men have not been able to see,” GLAAD’s Alexandra Bolles reports. “They petitioned a judge in their county to add each of their names to their biological sons’ birth certificates and to cross-adopt, or second-parent adopt, the boys. The judge has denied the family both requests.”
In Texas, as in 17 other states, the law is “unclear” as to whether LGBT parents can jointly adopt, meaning such family protections vary from judge to judge or county to county. Because Texas does not recognize Jason and Joe’s marriage, says the couple, second-parent adoption is much harder to achieve.
Center image and video via myfoxdfw.com
Top image courtesy Jason Hanna and Joe Riggs
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.