PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The legislation that updates the state’s 40-year-old law to ensure all Rhode Island children have equal access to the security of legal parentage is heading to Gov. Gina Raimondo’s desk.
The Uniform Parentage Act, sponsored by Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee and Sen. Erin Lynch Prata, would repeal the current state law regarding paternity, and replace it with a more comprehensive parentage act that provides procedures establishing parentage, genetic testing, surrogacy agreements and assisted reproduction.
“Our state’s adoption and parentage laws are significantly outdated, especially toward our state’s loving LGBTQ parents who want nothing more than to love, protect, and be responsible for their children,” Rep. McEntee said. “These bills are needed because we must acknowledge that our society and its definition of ‘families’ has changed and we cannot discriminate or put up undue burdens for those who wish nothing more than to love and raise the future members of our society.”
The bill gives the following paths to legal parentage in Rhode Island: birth, adoption, acknowledgment, adjudication, genetics, assisted reproduction, surrogacy, de facto parentage, and presumptions.
The bill also provides clear standards for the Family Court to apply in order to establish parentage.
“As our laws stand right now, a couple who have a child via a sperm donor may have to hire a lawyer or advertise to determine parentage in order to terminate the parental rights of an anonymous sperm donor,” Sen. Prata said. “Rhode Island law needs to be updated so that the state no longer puts up unnecessary obstacles to loving parents simply because they are not heterosexual or have not conceived through traditional reproduction methods.”
Rhode Islanders for Parentage Equality (RIPE) a coalition of parents, families, community members, and organizations advocating for the legal security of all children and families in Rhode Island, celebrated the final milestone following a three-year effort to update the parentage law to be more fair, equitable, and protective of all families.
“We are thrilled with today’s vote to support justice and equality for children and families in Rhode Island,” Wendy Becker, advocate and organizer with RIPE and LGBTQ Action RI, said. “The parents advocating for this bill have shown up again and again to tell painful stories about the fears and consequences of not having a clear legal relationship to their children.”