Many people may believe that the Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that recognized the rights of same-sex couples to marry also conferred the right to claim parentage of any children born into these unions. Unfortunately, that belief is often mistaken, depending on the state where one lives, and one partner may be required to go through the second-parent adoption process. New York has its own laws concerning whether each partner in a same-sex marriage will be considered an equal parent of their children.

Recently, an event was held in one state that was intended to highlight the need for reforms in every state to ensure that both parents in these relationships are afforded the same rights that heterosexual couples enjoy whenever a child is born. While the 2015 ruling stated that same-sex marriages are to be considered legal and equal to an opposite-sex union, this ruling did not go so far as to confer parental rights as well. Instead, many of the non-biological parents are forced to go through a second-parent adoption process in order to gain the right to be considered an equal parent.

The process can be lengthy and expensive, depending on the state where the couple resides. Even in states where both parents can be listed on the child’s birth certificate, the non-biological parent may still be required to seek full parental rights through the adoption process. The rally in New Jersey was geared toward pointing out the discrepancy between marriage rights and parental rights that are automatically conferred on heterosexual couples and the fact that same-sex couples have to fight for those same rights.

It was noted that, even with the granting of marriage equality for same-sex couples, there are still states that are attempting to circumnavigate that ruling and deny these couples the same rights as opposite-sex unions. There is still much work left for lawmakers in order to ensure that all parents are given the rights that a marriage license implies, regardless of the sex of the couple involved. New York residents who are struggling to establish parental rights through second-parent adoption, or have other concerns relating to their same-sex marriage, may choose to seek the assistance of a family law attorney.

Source:, “Union County Same-Sex Married Residents Seek Second-Parent Adoption to Gain Parental Rights“, Oct. 20, 2017