Lawyers dis­agree with leader of group

Poli­tifact

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - B

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

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