Statutory Parenthood for Same-Sex Partners

Illinois Bar Journal, Vol. 99, p. 636, December 2011

2 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2011

See all articles by Jeffrey A. Parness

Jeffrey A. Parness

Northern Illinois University - College of Law

Date Written: December 5, 2011


While same sex civil union partners and opposite sex married (and unmarried?) partners are to be treated similarly under the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (RFPCU), absolute sameness is impossible. Parenthood presumptions for married partners of new mothers are founded on possible genetic ties, impossible for same sex couples. Voluntary acknowledgments of parentage are only available to opposite sex couples as here too possible genetic ties are required.

Given the U.S. Supreme Court’s recognition, in Michael H. v. Gerald D., 491 U.S. 110 (1989), that American states may extend parentage at birth to “unitary family” members who lack genetic ties, and given that both the Illinois General Assembly and the Illinois Supreme Court have already done so to some extent, this paper proposes new parentage laws for same sex parents (unionized and nonunionized) so that “parent-child relationships can develop early on with little fear of later disruptions.”

The paper suggests two legislative initiatives for children born of sex. First, a new parentage presumption for unionized female couples. Second, new voluntary parentage acknowledgment opportunities for unionized male couples, as well as for all nonunionized same sex couples. It also suggests reforms of laws on parentage at birth for children not born of sex into unitary families encompassing same sex couples.

Keywords: parenthood, parent, parentage, same-sex couple, civil union, same-sex partners, domestic partners, same-sex marriage, parenthood acknowledgements

Suggested Citation

Parness, Jeffrey A., Statutory Parenthood for Same-Sex Partners (December 5, 2011). Illinois Bar Journal, Vol. 99, p. 636, December 2011. Available at SSRN:

Jeffrey A. Parness (Contact Author)

Northern Illinois University - College of Law ( email )

Swen Parson Hall
DeKalb, IL 60115
United States

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