Bill repeals TN law saying artifcial insemination babies are legitimate

Two Tennessee lawmakers want to do away with a 40-year-old state law granting legitimacy to children conceived through artificial insemination and critics say the bill is aimed at gay couples and their children, reports the Associated Press. A sponsor says that’s not the case.

The bill (HB1406, sponsored by Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster, and Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald) would remove a single sentence applying to child custody when artificial insemination is involved, one that’s been interpreted to make no distinction between same-sex and heterosexual couples.

But opponents warn that changing the law could prevent both same-sex parents from appearing on the children’s birth certificates, affecting their ability to make parenting decisions ranging from medical care to education.

“It would affect lesbian couples in particular, because if you have two women who are married and one is the birth mother, the other one is presumed to be parent in Tennessee,” said Chris Sanders, the executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project.

Ever since the 2015 same-sex marriage ruling, Tennessee laws with gender-specific terms have been interpreted as applying to either gender of married couples. But that would change under another Republican bill (HB33, sponsored by Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, and Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma) that is seeking to eliminate gender-neutral interpretations of “mother,” ”father,” ”husband,” and “wife.”

…Weaver said she is proposing to repeal the law because of constitutional concerns raised by the Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery in a divorce case between two women in Knoxville.

In fact, Slatery’s filing in that case defends the constitutionality of the current law, arguing that following the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same sex marriage, the Tennessee statute should not be read as applying to “the legitimate child of the two spouses.”

…Democratic state Sen. Jeff Yarbro called the bill “an attack on families.”

“It’s frankly the most ill-conceived and offensive bill I’ve seen the Legislature,” Yarbro said. “And that’s saying something.”

Note: Weaver has a Facebook posting on the matter HERE.

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