House Passes Parentage Act

Representative Mike Connolly joined his Cambridge and Somerville colleagues today in the House of Representatives to pass H.4672, “An Act to ensure legal parentage equality,” which updates the Commonwealth’s parentage laws to reflect modern-day families, including those with children born to LGBTQ+ families, and through methods such as assisted reproduction and surrogacy.

“Since our parentage laws were first written decades ago, new ways of starting a family have come about and those laws have not reflected our evolving society,” Representative Mike Connolly said. “I was proud to cast my vote during Pride month to update our parentage laws so that they are clear and equitable for all families, including LGBTQ+ families.”

Parental rights and responsibilities are broad and include, for example, the ability to attend and make decisions during medical appointments, manage a child’s finances, participate in educational decisions, and provide authorizations for a child’s travel. While Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage 20 years ago, LGBTQ+ residents continue to face significant barriers in obtaining full legal recognition as a parent. The bill passed today updates the Commonwealth’s laws so common paths to parentage may be utilized equally by all families, regardless of marital status. It also creates a new path to parentage for individuals who are “de facto” parents, and ensures that every child has the same rights and protections to parentage without regard to the marital status, gender identity or sexual orientation of their parents, or the circumstances of their birth.

Massachusetts leads the nation in easing the path for assisted reproduction, including surrogacy and in-vitro fertilization (IVF). However, current laws do not adequately outline rights, requirements, procedures and safeguards for parents, donors, surrogates, and others involved in the process. This bill establishes clear paths to parentage for individuals or couples utilizing assisted reproduction and surrogacy in order to provide legal recognition and status prior to the child’s birth.

For many families, non-biological parents are their child’s parent in every way except being legally recognized as such. They provide consistent caregiving, financial, and emotional support, and they are recognized by the child as their parent. The bill passed today legally recognizes the importance of these relationships and affords individuals who have been acting in a meaningful parental role for a significant amount of time the opportunity to seek full legal rights befitting their relationship. It also provides notice, and an opportunity to be heard, to existing parents. Lastly, the bill safeguards against abuse and protections for domestic violence survivors and military parents.

Representative Connolly would like to thank the Speaker of the House, Ronald Mariano, The Chair of Ways and Means, Aaron Michlewitz, The Chair of the Judiciary Mike Day, House sponsors Reps. Peake and Kane, The Parentage Act Coalition, GLAD, Mass Equality, and so many advocates and constituents who fought for this bill. Having passed the House of Representatives 156-0, the bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.