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California legislates over birth certificate confusion for same-sex couples

A new bill in California aims to ensure future birth certificates reflect the fact that modern families don’t always have one mother and one father
Proposed California birth certificate
Courtesy of the Office of Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez

Following lawmakers in California ruling earlier this summer that same-sex couples have the right to marry, steps are now being taken to simplify the way in which same-sex parents complete the birth certificates of their children.

At present, birth certificates in the US state have space for a ‘mother/parent’ name and a ‘father/parent’ name, forcing same-sex couples to add their names to these two fields regardless of their gender identity. A new bill will allow them the option of stating their relationship to the child: ‘father’, ‘mother’ or, simply, ‘parent’.

The bill's author, Los Angeles’ Democratic Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, said to Reuters, ‘This bill seems subtle but I think it’s going to make a profound impact on how people view each other… It’s a recognition that families come in different compositions now.’

While some other States in the US now allow the option for couples to list themselves as ‘Parent 1’ or ‘Parent 2’, Gomez believes that individuals should not have to designate themselves as ‘1’ or ‘2’.

‘We shouldn't paint over our differences by having the term 'Parent 1' or 'Parent 2.' We should give people the flexibility to reflect their relationship with their child… That's why I'm emphasizing that it's okay to have two mothers or fathers on a birth certificate,’ he told KCET.

'California leads the way in the struggle for equality, and this bill ensures our institutions and laws are updated and accurately reflect our evolving society.'

The bill (AB 1951), which passed the state assembly by a margin of 58 votes to 15 against, has now been forwarded on to California’s Democratic Governor Jerry Brown to sign. Once this is done, applications for the new birth certificates will be available from 2016. The bill has the backing of LGBT advocacy organization, Equality California.

According to 2010 US Census figures, there are approximately 90,000 same-sex couples in California, with 15,000 of those couples having children.

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