A new study confirms that same-sex couples encounter far more obstacles to treatment for infertility than opposite-sex couples – and a newly passed law in California aims to change that. The Equal Protection for All Families Act protects same-sex parents who use sperm and egg donors.
The bill updates California law to incorporate protections for gay and lesbian couples who use assisted reproduction methods and ensures that sperm and egg donors are not legally considered a parent.
The bill was authored by Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), who is straight.
Once the legislation becomes law, unmarried couples using assisted reproduction to have children would both be recognized as their child’s legal parents at birth – just as married parents are under current law. The bill would also remove a requirement currently in California’s family law that requires couples to involve a doctor when using assisted reproduction in order for the donor to not be considered a parent.
“This bill provides crucial legal relief for many couples, especially LGBT individuals, who are trying to become parents by using assisted reproduction,” says Chiu, “Many families, especially our LGBT families, hesitate before having children through assisted reproduction for fear that they may not be legally recognized as the parents they’ve always wanted and intended to be. The fear of possibly never having parental rights as intended is a heartbreaking scenario that needs to stop in California.”
Three LGBT members of the Assembly – Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park), and Evan Low (D-Campbell) – have signed on as co-authors of the bill – and a broad coalition of groups, including the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality California, and the Our Family Coalition, are co-sponsoring it.
It’s important to note that many families cannot afford to conceive using a sperm bank or doctor – largely because of the costs – which can range into the hundreds or thousands of dollars per month. Another downfall of current California law is that sperm donors are left in legal limbo that could result in them being required to pay child support by the state, for example, if the parents conceived through at-home insemination.
“No child should risk losing a parent just because the law doesn’t recognize their parent,” said Cathy Sakimura , NCLR’s family law director. “We applaud the California Legislature for recognizing that the law must equally protect all families conceiving through assisted reproduction, not just some of them.”
The legislation passed in both the California Senate and House and is now headed to California Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.