US: Louisiana bill would block gay couples from surrogate parenting

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A bill introduced in the Senate, in the US state of Louisiana will block gay, and unmarried couples from being able to become parents by using surrogates, by requiring that all parents using such a process, are married.

Senate Bill 162, which is sponsored by Democrat Gary Smith, intends to set up provisions blocking gay and unmarried couples from becoming parent using a surrogate, is to head to a conference committee, where it will come under further scrutiny by six lawmakers.

Supporters of the bill have argued that the state lacks laws giving clear guidelines on the governing of such births, and have asserted that current gaps in guidelines could lead to legal problems for surrogate mothers, their spouses, and the intended parents of a child.

The bill includes a clause, which specifies that the “intended parents” of a child must be married, under laws recognised by the state. The Louisiana Constitution specifies that marriage “shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.”

Smith said on Monday that he is against the amendment added in the House by Republican Representative Frank Hoffman, which would cause the bill to become void in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), is overturned by the Supreme Court in a decision expected by the end of June.

He went on to say that even after the conference committee “rewords”, the bill, that he intended it to “still keep [marriage] defined as what Louisiana believes,” he said, referring to the state Constitution which specifies marriage as between “one man and one woman”.

The bill has already proven to be divisive, and is opposed by both conservative religious, and more left-leaning groups, meaning it is backed by a mix of proponents, however it has been widely supported so far.

The National Organisation for Women has said the bill discriminates against same-sex and unmarried couples, however on the other end of the spectrum, the conservative Louisiana Family Forum, is against surrogacy full stop.

The bill was passed in the House last week with overwhelming support, however it will be reworded by the committee, before returning to both chambers for final debate.