Marriage Equality: Beyond a Piece of Paper

In case you needed a reason to prove why marriage equality is still important, even though an increasing number of states allow same-sex marriage, a case in Texas last week has proven how marriage, or the lack thereof, has significant legal ramifications in other parts of life.

Jason Hanna and Joe Riggs are the fathers of two boys named Lucas and Ethan, who were born in Texas with a surrogate mother. Jason and Joe are each a biological father to one of the boys. Thanks to Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage, which was ruled unconstitutional in February but is still in effect pending appeal, judges have discretion in legal cases. In this case, neither man is listed on the birth certificate of either boy, and they aren’t able to co-adopt each other’s biological child.

That’s right. Only the surrogate mother, who has no biological relationship since the embryos were transferred into her, is listed on the boys’ birth certificates.

How does this tie into marriage equality? In order to be granted an automatic second-parent adoption, couples have to be legally married in Texas. Since Texas doesn’t recognize Jason and Joe’s marriage, though, they’re stuck in this legal limbo.

So while we celebrate the progress our community has made in this issue, keep in mind the importance of this particular issue. With marriage equality comes a deluge of rights that we may not even realize we need.

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