Today Governor Gina M. Raimondo signed into law H7541Aaa/S2136Baa, the Rhode Island Uniform Parentage Act, updating Rhode Island’s parentage laws to reflect the many ways in which families are formed and protecting the rights of LGBTQIA+ parents.
“Love is love – it’s as simple as that,” said Governor Raimondo. “No parent should have to jump through hoops to receive legal recognition because of their sexual orientation or the circumstances of their child’s birth. The Rhode Island Uniform Parentage Act enshrines into law our belief in the validity of all paths to parenthood.”
Rhode Island’s parentage laws had previously not been updated in over four decades and had become outdated in many areas, failing to recognize the diversity of modern families. The Rhode Island Uniform Parentage Act repeals the previous state law on parentage and creates a simplified path to legal parental rights for all parents, including LGBTQIA+ parents, unmarried parents, and parents who use surrogacy, adoption, or assisted reproduction. The legislation also helps to improve access, efficiency and consistency in the courts by creating clear standards and protections for families regardless of their origin.
“Our state’s adoption and parentage laws are significantly outdated, especially toward our state’s loving LGBTQ parents who want nothing more than to love, protect and be responsible for their children. 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 legislation is also supremely beneficial to the children who are born through these processes because it allows them to officially have two loving and supportive parents from the moment they are born. This bill is specifically about one thing — equality and fairness, especially for the loving parents and their children in this state,” said Representative McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett).
“The Judiciary Committee heard heart-wrenching testimony about the ways in which our outdated laws are impacting parents and children. 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. Parents may be unable to make medical decisions for their child when they’re incapacitated due to complications. This is simply unfair. 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,” said Senator Lynch Prata (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston).
“What I think is most wonderful about the passage of this bill is that young people can imagine their futures full of possibility. I am a teacher in Providence and advise a high school Gender and Sexuality Alliance. When we talked about this bill last fall, my students were shocked to see the discord between the past path to parentage and Rhode Island’s other LGBTQ protections. And while most of them said, “no, Mr. Sundaresh, I don’t know about having kids,” who knows where they’ll be in five, or ten, or fifteen years. I hope that when they see me, a trans educator of color, they know their futures are theirs, and if that includes becoming a parent, the Universal Parentage Act now ensures their parentage pathway is clear of legal barriers,” said Aarev Sundaresh, an advocate for the Rhode Island Uniform Parentage Act.