LGBTQ families in Connecticut have more to be proud of — and to celebrate — than ever before thanks to a new bill signed by the state’s Democratic governor.
Mark Pazniokas of The CT Mirror reported that on Tuesday, June 1, Gov. Ned Lamont ushered in Pride month in his state by signing the Connecticut Parentage Act, a “bipartisan bill that provides equal treatment under the law to children born to same-sex couples.”
“More than offering legal certainty to LGBTQ parents and children, the new law modernizes outdated definitions and legal provisions pertaining to paternity and maternity and recognizes the changing medical, legal and cultural realities of what it means to be a parent,” Pazniokas reported. “Whether straight or gay, the rights of a non-biological parent in a couple that uses surrogacy or other means of assisted reproduction to have a child are clarified in the law, as are the rights of a surrogate who carries a child to birth under contract.”
Prior to the new law, “non-biological” parents who wanted full parental rights with their children would have to apply for what was called a “second-parent adoption,” a complex and sometimes expensive process that many couples not only found demeaning but also opened couples up to legal challenges from former partners or other individuals not supportive of LGBTQ equality.
Speaking at the ceremonial signing of the act, Rep. Jeff Currey — one of three openly LGBTQ lawmakers in the state legislature — said, “It is a true privilege to have so many allies in the General Assembly and in the building behind us today. It makes our caucus of three small but ever so mighty.”
The Connecticut Parentage Act passed unanimously in the state Senate and received only one “no” vote in the House — a fact that Yale Law School professor and parental law expert Douglas NeJaime was happy to celebrate.
Earlier in the year, NeJaime had told state officials that Connecticut’s parentage laws were “unconstitutional and among the most outdated in America.”
“They have failed to keep pace not only with constitutional developments but also with the way people in our state form families,” he said at the time. “By limiting parentage on the basis of marriage and genetics, our laws leave many children without the security that legal parentage provides.”
In a speech at the signing-in ceremony, knowing those laws were now gone, NeJaime said he felt vindicated by the new bill.
“As someone whose research and writing has been dedicated to parentage law, I can tell you now that Connecticut has perhaps the most comprehensive, most inclusive and most child-centered parentage law in the country,” he said with a smile.
According to NeJaime, “the new law makes parentage law gender-neutral and ensures that same-sex couples and transgender parents have equal and ready access to a legal status as a parent, even if they do not have a genetic connection to the child.”
“An individual who consents to assisted reproduction with the intent to be a parent of a child would be treated by law as a parent,” he said. “Non-biological parents can secure their parentage at the moment of their child’s birth. In the hospital, they’ll be able to sign acknowledgments of parentage — a simple administrative form.”
Although Connecticut was slow to secure full and equal rights for LGBTQ parents, the state was an early adopter of gay rights, passing some of the first-ever protections in housing and employment for LGBTQ individuals in 1991 as well as a same-sex civil unions bill in 2005 — three full years before the state Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2008. It would be another seven years before nationwide marriage equality was ushered in by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015.