Lawyers disagree with leader of group
ment of State Health Services. The agency filed nearly 388,000 regular birth certificates, the kind issued after babies are born, in the period. Both types, once issued, look the same.
Anchia’s proposal would replace a provision in the Texas Health and Safety Code saying that on a supplemental birth certificate, one parent must be a female, named as the mother, and the other a male, named as the father. The law would say instead that the “supplementary birth certificate of an adopted child must be in the names of both adoptive parents,” not specifying genders. The measure, if passed, would take effect in September 2013.
Under the law as it now works for same-sex couples, one adoptive parent must choose to be designated as the father, in the case of a male couple, or the mother, in the case of a female couple, and the other parent is not listed on the resulting birth certificate. Mann told us that the 1997 Legislature put the gender-specific requirement in place.
So, would mother and father fade from Texas birth certificates in general?
Two lawyers with expertise in adoption cases told us they do not read Anchia’s proposal as Saenz does.
Michael Lackmeyer of Killeen said the proposal would affect only birth certificates in adoption cases, not the vast majority issued after babies are born. Also, he said, he believes the state could keep the existing application for supplemental certificates, perhaps amended with instructions stating the adopting mother need not be a female nor the father a male. “I don’t really think it’s going to do quite what the opposition thinks it’s going to do,” Lackmeyer said.
Jeff Barnett of Austin agreed, saying nothing in the proposal should lead to certificates issued after birth losing “mother” and “father” designations. All the proposal does is remove the hurdle that one adopting parent be male and the other female, Barnett said.
But Mann, the State Health Services spokeswoman, offered an uncertain analysis, saying that while the proposal may not appear to affect all certificates, that remains a possibility.
If the “modification is made to only supplementary birth records, it may have the effect of identifying adopted persons,” Mann wrote. “If you modify just the sup- plementary birth records of adopted persons by including only genderneutral references to the parents (e.g. ‘parent 1’ and ‘parent 2’) and leave all other birth records with the ‘mother’ and ‘father’ references, that gender neutral reference/record distinguishes adopted person’s records and thus identifies them, which under current state law, is prohibited. As a result,” she said, “we would have to have a consistent reference on all birth certificates going forward so as to not bring attention to those which are for adopted persons.”
We had asked Mann if Anchia’s proposal would result in “mother” and “father” entries going away from all certificates.
She replied: “The answer may be no if we can find a way to add ‘or parent,’ ‘or co-parent’ or some other additional category along with ‘mother’ and ‘father’ to provide the gender-neutral option provided by the (legislation) on all certificates