Surrogacy Parentage Protection Act Passes Legislature and Heads to Governor’s Desk

Assembly Bill 2349 by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) Monday passed the Assembly on concurrence and now heads to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown. This measure would protect parents of children conceived through surrogacy in California – including many same-sex couples who rely on reproductive assistance to form their families – from having their rights violated outside the state.

AB 2349 would clarify that California’s Superior Courts have jurisdiction over parentage cases arising from gestational surrogacy arrangements. This bill would also make clear that when intended parents are using donated gametes (eggs and/or sperm), the names of these donors need not be revealed in their surrogacy contracts.

“As LGBT civil rights are threatened in other states at an alarming rate, California must continue to lead the nation in protecting all families, including same-sex couples forming their families through assisted reproduction,” said Asm. Chiu “We are helping to ensure that the progressive protections offered in California regarding parentage rights are respected and enforced across state lines.”

Across the nation, and specifically in Alabama and Texas, there have been recent cases where same-sex couples have had to go to court to defend prior judgments regarding their parental rights. In both cases, one issue was whether the court issuing the parentage judgment had appropriate jurisdiction to do so. While California has made great efforts to protect LGBT couples and parents, families interact with many states that remain hostile to lesbian and gay families.

In the midst of the backlash against the Supreme Court’s historic same-sex marriage decision and the push for so-called “religious freedom” laws that seek to legitimize discrimination, some states are looking for new ways to undermine the legal recognitions afforded to same-sex couples and their children. One of the only recognized bases for refusing to grant full faith and credit to a court judgment is to assert that the court rendering the judgment lacked jurisdiction. This bill provides two simple clarifications that would help many parents, especially same-sex couples, avoid costly litigation and emotionally distressing situations that could potentially lead to losing their wanted child, as well as protecting California surrogates from another state entering an order inconsistent with California’s legislative scheme.

AB 2349 is supported by a coalition of assisted reproduction and LGBT civil rights advocates, including the Academy of California Adoption Lawyers (ACAL), Equality California (EQCA), National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and Our Family Coalition.

AB 2349 now heads to Governor Brown, who will have until September 30 to act on the measure.