HRC Blog

California Allows Children More Than Two Legal Parents

California has long been a leader in the fight for LGBT equality. Governor Jerry Brown continued that tradition late last week, signing legislation that would allow children in the state of California to have more than two legal parents if a court determines it is in the best interest of the child. 

State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) told the Los Angeles Times he authored the bill to accommodate changing family structures in the nation’s most populous state, including situations where same-sex couples children have children with a person of a different-sex. “Courts need the ability to recognize these changes so children are supported by the adults that play a central role in loving and caring for them," said Leno. "It is critical that judges have the ability to recognize the roles of all parents so that no child has to endure separation from one of the adults he or she has always known as a parent."

Census data indicates there were approximately 98,000 same-sex couple households living in California in 2010. The new law is partially a reaction to a 2011 court decision involving a lesbian couple that briefly ended their relationship. One of the women became pregnant before the women resumed their relationship. When both women became temporarily unable to care for their daughter, she was sent to foster care because her biological father did not have parental rights. This law will ensure a child in a similar situation will be able to be cared for by the third parent.

HRC’s Children, Youth & Families Program provides expert resources to LGBT people who are – or looking to become – foster or adoptive parents. 

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