In Texas, Biological Fathers Denied Rights Because They're Gay And Married

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Gay Fathers Legally married in Massachusetts, a gay couple who are biological fathers of their two newborn twin boys are not allowed to adopt each others child to complete their family as a legal unit. And the reason, according to a Texas judge, is that these two men are married.

Confused? It only gets tougher to understand, but here goes. From Advocate.com:

Jason Hanna and Joe Riggs, who married in Massachussetts and now live in northern Texas, worked with a surrogate mother and an egg donor, allowing them to each father one of their twin sons, making the babies biological half-brothers. Not only did a family court judge decide that each cannot adopt the other’s child, but the judge also said the biological fathers cannot be listed on their children's birth certificate, reports David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement.

All of this despite Hanna and Riggs proving they're the biological fathers via court ordered DNA tests.

Picking up on this from RAW STORY:

“On one hand, it’s a little scary because as of right now, we don’t have full parental rights of our own biological children,” Hanna told KDFW “Actually, I think that’s what surprised me the most was a family court,” Riggs noted. “I guess I expected them to be looking out for the best interest of our kids, and I felt we walked out that day and it wasn’t in the best interest of our kids.”

This comes despite a February 26th decision handed down in Federal Court:

U.S. Judge Orlando Garcia issued an injunction barring Texas from enforcing a law and constitutional amendment that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying and ban the state from recognizing same-sex marriages that were legally performed in other states.

Fortunately, these two young infants haven't been taken away from their natural fathers yet. But maybe that's just a matter of time. After all, this is Texas.  There are no guarantees. And while this Texas judge may have the letter of the law stuck up his/her craw, four lives are in limbo right now.

So this, it seems, it Texas justice.

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  • Bose

    I agree with you, Parker, and it's also true that no one is taking pot shots at the judge here. To me it's the big picture that's unthinkable, wherever the responsibilities for creating it turn out to be.

    It's remotely possible the dads didn't research things carefully enough, or hired attorneys who were ill-prepared (though unlikely). It's possible that conflicting TX laws tied the judge's hands, or that he had zero exposure to a case like this. (My attorney presented a fair amount of LGBT-101 basic during my divorce trial, mid-90s, for which the judge commended him at the end of the trial. He said it was his first time hearing parent/child visitation challenges alleging that being gay should be taken as a threat to kids, and his ruling was fair and based on the evidence we presented.)

    Whatever the cause, though, two infants left the courtroom in danger, whether mild or severe. A car accident injuring the family could have devastating immediate effects.

  • Parker

    I think maybe it's premature to string up the judge. I've read four articles on this and have come away with four different stories. There was an article floating around that said the couple's lawyer had to refile some paperwork, which kind of means that it was an attorney error as opposed to a judge being wrong. There's been no statement by the attorney, only what the couple reports, so we really don't have any sort of expertise given on what the procedure should be and what's happened. I think in this situation, if I were a judge I would err on the side of caution, especially given the fact that the state of law in Texas isn't definite. I don't really see a situation where this case comes in front of a family law judge and the judge just saying "no". Of course, the judge could really just be a Nazi bastard too I guess. This is Texas, after all.

  • David G

    Well thought out and expressed. Thanks Bose.

  • Bose

    Yep, this one has been bugging me as maybe-someday an absurd Texas joke, but in the immediate term, damned scary. There were even reports that the actual physical birth certificates had been kept secret from the dads.

    It gets especially awful when I think of the state's role, sometimes taken to extremes, in ensuring collection of child support. Think about second-parent adoptions in the years after a bio-parent's death or abandonment of a kid. It's not just a feel-good thing for the spouse (generally) married to the active bio-parent. It means the absent parent's rights and responsibilities are terminated, the name is dropped from the revised birth certificate and replaced with the adopter. The process is good for the child since it stands a good chance of giving him/her two forever parents.

    Second-parent adoption is even especially good for kids if the marriage ends. Two people remain responsible for the care and well-being of the kid. If one of them slips up or walks away on their responsibilities, the courts can step in -- because of both names on the birth certificate -- to make sure the child has both parents' resources available.

    By contrast, these twin boys have two people fighting to be held responsible for their well being forever (the dads) and two people (egg donor & surrogate) who sacrificed to create them, never expecting it to be a forever commitment.

    Texas crazy, indeed.