New York State Lawmaker Wants To "Modernize" Birth Certificates For LGBT Families

    Three years after legalizing marriage equality, the New York State senate has introduced legislation that would "modernize" birth certificate forms to better serve LGBT families.

    A new bill introduced Thursday in the New York State Senate aims to expand designations on state birth certificates to better reflect LGBT families, BuzzFeed News has learned.

    State Sen. Brad Hoylman, an out gay Manhattan Democrat, introduced the legislation in an effort to ensure LGBT families are protected and accurately recorded on birth certificates — especially since marriage equality has been legal in the state for over three years, he said.

    "Since New York passed marriage equality, it's a new dawn for half a million LGBT adults who now have the right to marry," Hoylman said in a statement. "The next step for many of these couples will be to have kids, and we need to make sure they have the same rights as anyone else, including the right to have their families acknowledged accurately on birth certificates."

    The legislation, Senate Bill 7942, or the Modern Family Birth Certificate Act, would expand current parentage options on birth certificates to appear as "mother/father/parent." Currently, the options only include "mother/parent" and "father/parent," which Hoylman said has led female-identified same-sex couples who have a child to list themselves as "mother" and "father."

    "It came to my attention that actually some of my constituents — women who had a child — were facing the indignity of having to designate themselves as the father of their newborn on their child's birth certificate," Hoylman said. "This bill saves them from having to do that when obviously they aren't that — as well as adding an option for a different designation, a neutral designation."

    But two dads raising a child wouldn't both be designated as "father" on birth certificates under Hoylman's bill until another piece of legislation he sponsors passes.

    The Child-Parent Security Act would, among other things, ensure the state legally recognizes the intended parents of children born by through such methods as artificial insemination and surrogate parenting contracts. Under that bill, courts could grant parental rights to same-sex couples who are the intended parents of an unborn child; for example, male same-sex couples that can't biologically have children.

    "Marriage equality has created a presumption of parentage for women, but there isn't a presumption of parentage with two men that exists among women when the child is the biological offspring of the parent," Hoylman said. "Obviously two men can't have a child themselves, and so with the Child-Parent Security Act, a court would intervene to make sure they're recognized as parents."

    Should both bills pass and become law, male same-sex couples would then be able to be listed as "father" and "father" on their child's birth certificate, Hoylman said, noting both are pieces of legislation are based off similar laws in California.

    The senator hopes to gain support from co-sponsors and move the legislation to the Senate floor for a vote in the new session next January.

    Nathan Schaefer, executive director of statewide LGBT rights group Empire State Pride Agenda, said in a statement that the new birth certificate legislation would "correct outdated notions of what it means to be a family by recognizing the true diversity of parenthood."

    "The genders or gender identities of one's parents should be accurately reflected on this significant document for the sake of safety, accessing services and as a matter of public record," Schaefer said. "It is one big step in the direction of protecting our families."

    A message was left with a spokesperson for the New York State Department of Health, which handles vital records like birth certificates, seeking comment.

    Here's the main text of the bill: