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Judge: Gay Fathers’ Names Cannot Appear On Their Biological Children’s Birth Certificates

by David Badash on June 17, 2014

in Civil Rights,Discrimination,News

Post image for Judge: Gay Fathers’ Names Cannot Appear On Their Biological Children’s Birth Certificates

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.

LISTEN: Even After DNA Testing, Texas Judge Denying Gay Dads On Birth Certificates Of Their Kids

“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.

Joe and Jason

“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.


Dallas News |

Center image and video via
Top image courtesy Jason Hanna and Joe Riggs

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

xenubarb June 17, 2014 at 5:06 pm

That judge is just being a dick because he can. Shame.

xphile1002 June 17, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Oh. Texas. Not surprised. Also, super unfair.

Bose_in_SP_MN June 17, 2014 at 5:10 pm

I'm aghast… two kids with no legal parents, or no father and the surrogate? Secret birth certificates, even from ALL of the parents? Sounds terrifying as well as abhorrent.

Peace and good luck to the dads…

Expat39 June 18, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Each child has a biological father who appears on the birth certificate. Each non-biological father petitoned the court for a same sex second parent adoption of their non-biological child so they can also appear on the birth certificate.

one2three4 June 18, 2014 at 8:51 pm

No, they do not. As the article states, neither of the father's name appears on either of the children's birth certificate. The judge will not even allow the biological father's name on his biological child's certificate. That is what is especially bizarre about this case. It sounds like they at least expected the one father per certificate scenario, but the Judge went way beyond that. Animus.

SeanLiberty13 June 17, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Activist INGRATE judge who better give a portion of his salary back to those dads who are his employers or don't tax them.

sfbob June 17, 2014 at 6:00 pm

So as of now these children have NO legal parents? When the state goes out of its way to treat citizens unfairly, you end up with absurdities like this. It's time for the dads to file suit in federal court. Seems as though the only way to drag Texas into the modern era is by filing a lawsuit.

tedward55 June 17, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Why in the hell aren't they at least allowing the biological father of each child to appear on that child's birth certificate? Is this some temporary fluke or is this judge being that damn vindictive?

prefix16309 June 17, 2014 at 6:52 pm

The article says that they are a legally married couple BUT they live in Texas, a state that does not recognize same sex marriage. Which is it?

Pompey50 June 17, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Both. They did not get married in Texas. The federal government recognises their marriage but the state of Texas does not.

Expat39 June 18, 2014 at 2:15 pm

<div class="idc-message" id="idc-comment-msg-div-844293738"><a class="idc-close" title="Click to Close Message" href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(844293738)"><span>Close Message</span> Comment posted. <p class="idc-nomargin"><a class="idc-share-facebook" target="_new" href="; style="text-decoration: none;"><span class="idc-share-inner"><span>Share on Facebook</span></span> or <a href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(844293738)">Close MessageIf the state they reside in doesn't recognize gay marriage, then they aren't really married. It's just symbolic and a bit silly. Marriage is sanctioned by the state.

one2three4 June 18, 2014 at 8:55 pm

That is not true at all sir. The US constitution also applies to marriages, and in a little case last summer called US v. Windsor, a large chunk of the Defense of Marriage Act was thrown out. A legal marriage made in any state is recognized by the federal government. A loophole remains that allows state governments not to recognize those marriages, but it will not last long. Courts in Texas has already found these laws to be unconstitutional. One the appeals are done, that stay will be lifted and there will be no more silly discrimination by Texas or by this judge.

JayJonson June 17, 2014 at 7:38 pm

These guys need to move out of Texas and petition a court in a sane state to do the right thing.

kalanac June 18, 2014 at 10:05 am

They might not be able to. Without having legal guardianship, taking their kids over state lines would be classed as kidnapping :S

JayJonson June 18, 2014 at 2:41 pm

They each have guardianship over one of the children. There is no dispute about their guardianship, only about their ability to have joint paternity.

kalanac June 19, 2014 at 3:16 am

No, read carefully.
"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.***"

"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.***"

“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.

dbcexplorer June 17, 2014 at 8:09 pm

I don't understand how the birth certificates can't, at the very least, have the respective biological father. That makes absolutely no sense. I guess the words that come next will be the ones that have to be used way to often…See you in court!

FranknPhilly June 17, 2014 at 9:08 pm

That's Texas for ya! Since dual adoption was available in PA, both my name and my husband's are on our son's adoption decree, but TX (where he was born) would only put one of our names on the re-issued birth certificate (or our initials, which is silly). Twelve years later, it seems less important, but still unjust and just plain mean — so much more so for these men who are biological parents.

Gay couples have long known that deep emotional commitment is not dependent on legal recognition, but there should be legal recognition of deep emotional commitment. Eventually, even defiantly backward Texas will enter the 21st century. Meanwhile, best wishes to these two dads!

Angry Fag June 17, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Damn activist judges, I tell ya…

jbeakers June 18, 2014 at 2:42 am

The bullshit gets more ridiculous every day. Unbelievable.

Beatrice June 18, 2014 at 3:52 am

Apparently they like the state of Texas enough to live there. With that being said, they should have researched the laws on this before they decided to go ahead with parenting in that state. Not all the blame can be put upon the state. I know that you may not want to hear this no one does. I definitely don't agree with it. They should be allowed to be listed as the Father's of the boys. I am just saying that either they knew this would happen given they chose to live in Texas or they should have known and should have fought this battle appropriately BEFORE the birth of their children. I feel heartache for them but know the laws before and there would be no need for "see you in court" I am so sick of that very phrase so many times it doesn't work out and look at what could have been prevented by being proactive.

stardust305 June 18, 2014 at 7:59 am

Maybe their entire families are there. Maybe they were raised there, and Texas is their home. Your logic is the same logic employed by people who never change the system. They are victims here, and the state of Texas is entirely to blame.

Expat39 June 18, 2014 at 2:10 pm

How can you fight this battle before a child is born? If there is no child then there is no issue.

one2three4 June 18, 2014 at 9:02 pm

I am pretty sure they put a LOT of effort into it. The actions they took clearly support the notion that they took extra, and expensive, steps to better support a legal relationship. For example, they paid for a woman to donate eggs, but had a different surrogate, who is in no way biologically related to the children, bear them. From my read, they at least expected the biological father to be listed on their respective biological issue's certificate. That is the legally logical route. But the judge did something highly unexpected. He rejected their biological paternity. There is no law that tells the judge to do that. He simply did it. Judges do not always do the right thing by the law. This is clearly one of those circumstances.

alexisdcraig June 19, 2014 at 8:56 am

Heteropaternal superfecundation is a thing, a legitimate obstetric thing dealing with fraternal twins who have different fathers. It's extraordinarily rare, but it's definitely a thing and can happen naturally. WTF do they do in those cases where all parties are presumably straight? God, this is horrible for the parents and the kids. They need to appeal his ruling.

ivyshoots June 19, 2014 at 10:40 am

The article puts the blame on the judge, but I suspect the fault lies in legislation, which the judge is duty-bound to uphold.

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