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Louisiana Uses Surrogacy Reform to Attack Gay Rights

Louisiana Uses Surrogacy Reform to Attack Gay Rights

It’s not your usual method of attacking gay rights, but Louisiana lawmakers are doing just that in an attempt reform the state’s vague surrogacy laws.

The reform legislation, Senate Bill 162, was introduced by Senator Gary Smith (D-Norco) and is intended to clear up what supporters have called Louisiana’s vague rules on surrogacy in order to make clear those who are eligible, the role of the parties involved and their claims to legal protection.

While under current Louisiana state law, same-sex couples are banned from marrying and therefore adopting children, same-sex couples can at the moment still contract with a surrogate.

In the process of forming Smith’s surrogacy reform, and under intense lobbying from people affiliated with groups like the religious conservative Louisiana Family Forum, a number of changes were made to the bill that essentially means the only people that can avail themselves of surrogacy contracts will be married couples who are able to donate gametes.

That’s because the bill invokes the state’s constitutional amendment and defines marriage only between a man and a woman and would prohibit the unwed from having a state recognized contract with a surrogate.

The bill sailed through the state House, but with what on the surface seems an unusual amendment to the legislation. State House Representative Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe, introduced a change to the law that would mean if the Supreme Court of the United States was to overturn DOMA this month or Louisiana’s ban on marriage equality, the surrogacy bill would be overturned in its entirety. Says the amendment:

“If the United States Supreme Court finds that Article XII, Section 15 of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974 or the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman, is unconstitutional, the provisions of this Act shall be null, void, and given no effect.”

Hoffmann, a “pro-life” religious conservative who has played his part in destroying reproductive rights in the state, has made it known that his amendment to the bill has little to do with gay marriage and gay parents as such, but the anti-gay intent here is fairly clear.

As Equality Louisiana points out, the amendment is actually very spiteful because even if overturning DOMA did have an effect on Louisiana’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and gay parenting rights (which is, in the short term, highly unlikely), and even if Louisiana’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was struck down, the bill would still ban same-sex couples:

Even forcing Louisiana to recognize same-sex marriage still wouldn’t permit same-sex couples to conceive children with the help of a surrogate under this bill, because of the requirement that both intended parents donate gametes — this would be biologically impossible for a same-sex couple to accomplish.

Smith is now taking the bill to a conference committee, where he wants lawmakers to iron out differences in the bill. One of the first on the chopping block will be the Hoffman amendment, but Smith has said he’ll keep the de facto gay ban.

That the rights of same-sex couples would be so cavalierly thrown around as though they were nothing is absolutely shameful. Louisiana is among the most gay rights-hostile states and this move to shuffle same-sex couples out of any parenting rights whatsoever is just further proof of this.

The bill’s future isn’t necessarily guaranteed, though. Some religious conservatives have objected to the law because surrogacy, as part of the process, can lead to a surplus of embryos, something that does not tally with their so-called pro-life agenda.

Other groups have sounded a note of caution that the gestational surrogacy bill, similar to a law already active in California, could be exploited to create a buyer’s market out of surrogacy. While this is the most alarmist angle, other concerns have been that the bill does not carry adequate or clear protections for the woman acting as a surrogate.

Wider rights groups have also attacked the bill for the fact that it defines away the rights of non-married and single people, and even infertile married couples, from contracting a surrogate by mandating that only married couples who are both able to donate gametes will be eligible.

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Image credit: Thinkstock.

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91 comments

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4:17PM PDT on Jun 9, 2013

OK, WoW!

11:30AM PDT on Jun 8, 2013

thanks for sharing

11:26PM PDT on Jun 7, 2013

Jane, I don’t suppose it occurred to you that a lot of moms don’t talk to their daughters about their “first period, make-up, hair styles, clothing styles etc.” I had a lot of friends whose moms thought it was “dirty” to talk about menstruation and sex. Did it never occur to you that getting information from the male point of view might be even more enlightening? It’s not like a dad can’t look any of this stuff up on the internet. And doing a little research together with Dad might make things even more special & bring dad and daughter closer.
There are plenty of single moms and dads raising kids of both genders. Why should it matter if a kid has two moms or two dads? Where there’s love, it’s a family. There are far too many opposite sex couples doing a lousy job of raising their kids. Maybe they can learn a thing or two from same sex parents.

12:31PM PDT on Jun 7, 2013

Another Wank (Group) of DICKS, using their own Questionable Moral Codes, to Destroy the Hopes of Others!

11:38AM PDT on Jun 7, 2013

There are times...like this...when I just want to bang my head into the keyboard until it makes sense.

Even though I know it won't help. *sigh*

8:58AM PDT on Jun 7, 2013

Thanks for sharing!

10:51PM PDT on Jun 6, 2013

"When will they...?" When people wake up to the fact that allowing someone else's religion to influence our personal health care decisions is not only WRONG....it's unconstitutional!

9:09PM PDT on Jun 6, 2013

when will legislation show and represent a more evolved - better humanity?

7:00PM PDT on Jun 6, 2013

KateR Wile I would generally agree with what you say, I must point out that this PREVENTS people from adopting, not just bearing children. And usually, a surrogacy is used when the woman is unable to carry a child, not produce one. But if an individual in a couple is infertile, for what ever reason, or otherwise unable to produce a child, should they there for be forbidden to adopt or con sieve a child through invetro and/or donated eggs or semen?
And as for Jane R. Are you saying that a single woman should not be aloud to raise a son? That a single father is incapably of raising a daughter? How is/would this be any different from a committed gay couple, be they men or women, being able to raise a child in a loving and sportive family household? Remember, many a gay family have children from previous hetero marriages, so many are in such denial. I think that is the main cause of Homo Phobia. Floating on that old river, hiding in the closet.

3:44PM PDT on Jun 6, 2013

Mark K. say's "why are wingnut Dems so interested in banning "lead" in ammunition."

Mark, if you have to ask that question, there is probably no help for you. You might consider taking a high school chemistry class to see what lead is and does to animal tissue. Although, by your comment, you probably wouldn't care anyway.

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