Law professor publishes ‘Statutory Parenthood for Same-sex Partners’

By Ryan Felgenhauer

An NIU law professor published an article in the December issue of the Illinois Bar Journal, which came out today, about parenthood issues in same-sex couples.

In “Statutory Parenthood for Same-sex Partners,” law professor emeritus Jeffrey Parness suggests potential laws for parents in civil unions.

Giving legal privileges to non-biological parents in civil unions is an issue which is not very clearly defined by Illinois law, Parness said.

“My new article suggests what laws would be necessary to give civil union parents the same rights as married ones while respecting the rights of the biological parents,” Parness said.

Parness said he believes current promises of equality for civil unions are not being fulfilled.

“The existing legislation promises equality between civil unions and marriages,” Parness said. “Unfortunately, under current laws, full equality is impossible.”

According to Parness’s article, a potential solution would be to change the existing Parentage Act to include an option to put a parent on a birth certificate not based on biological ties.

Parness said he believes those types of changes would fulfill the promises that the law gives to civil partners.

“Families headed by same-sex partners deserve more clarity,” Parness said in his article. “New Illinois statutes are the best way to do that.”

Some people believe the choice of birth certificate parents should be chosen at birth by the parents.

“It should always be a choice, no matter the situation,” said Emma Titus, LGBT Resource Center intern “It should be a mutual decision by the couple in every situation, not exclusive to same-sex couples.”

Others believe different situations require different consideration.

“It should be decided on a case-by-case basis,” said Molly Holmes, LGBT Resource Center director. “If the child was conceived before a same-sex couple got together, the natural parents should both have be able to raise the child. If a civil union partnership goes through the process, they should be allowed to be listed as the child’s parents.”