Massachusetts House passes Parentage Act

BOSTON – State Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn) join his colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass “An Act to ensure legal parentage equality,” which updates the Commonwealth’s parentage laws to reflect modern-day families, including those with children born to LGBTQ+ families, and through methods such as assisted reproduction and surrogacy.

“This is a vital step forward in aligning our laws to reflect modern-day families,” said Representative Haggerty. “By updating our parentage laws, we’re ensuring that all families – regardless of how they’re formed – have the protections and the recognition they deserve, providing security and peace of mind for countless parents and children across our state. This bill embodies our Commonwealth’s values of equality and inclusion, and demonstrates that in Massachusetts, all families are truly equal.”

Parental rights and responsibilities encompass a wide range of duties, including making medical decisions, managing a child’s finances, guiding education, and authorizing travel for a child. Despite legalizing same-sex marriage two decades ago, LGBTQ+ residents continue to face significant challenges in obtaining full legal recognition as a parent. The newly passed bill updates the Commonwealth’s laws so common paths to parentage may be utilized equally by all families, regardless of marital status. It also creates a new path to parentage for individuals who are “de facto” parents and ensures that every child has the same rights and protections to parentage without regard to the marital status, gender identity or sexual orientation of their parents, or the circumstances of their birth.

While Massachusetts is at the forefront of facilitating assisted reproduction methods like surrogacy and in-vitro fertilization (IVF), existing legislation falls short in clearly defining the rights, obligations, protocols, and protections for all parties involved, including parents, donors, and surrogates. This bill establishes clear paths to parentage for individuals or couples utilizing assisted reproduction and surrogacy in order to provide legal recognition and status prior to the child’s birth.

For many families, non-biological parents are their child’s parent in every way except being legally recognized as such. They provide consistent caregiving, financial, and emotional support, and they are recognized by the child as their parent. The bill passed today legally recognizes the importance of these relationships and affords individuals who have been acting in a meaningful parental role for a significant amount of time the opportunity to seek full legal rights befitting their relationship. It also provides notice, and an opportunity to be heard, to existing parents. Lastly, the bill safeguards against abuse and protections for domestic violence survivors and military parents.

Having passed the House of Representatives 156-0, the bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.