We are very disappointed in the House vote to send the Rhode Island Parentage Act (RIPA) to a study commission. Rhode Island children and families need security and legal protections now.

The RIPA is based on nonpartisan model legislation that reflects detailed study and best practices. The engaged group of family law experts and community members that worked on this bill took care to adapt it to Rhode Island’s needs. The Family Court was invited to participate in that process and provide input. When limited comments were shared in April they were addressed. Thereafter, the Senate voted unanimously to pass the bill. We have stood and continue to stand willing to engage with the Family Court.

There is widespread support for this legislation, including from the Rhode Island Department of Health, Division of Vital Records and the Department of Human Services through the Office of Child Support Services, as well as in the Senate, which have all understood the urgency of updating Rhode Island’s parentage laws. There has been no public opposition raised at all until the eleventh hour. Meanwhile, LGBTQ families are receiving disparate and unequal treatment in our family courts, and children born from assisted reproduction and surrogacy have no clear path to legal parentage. For the best interest of children, we must remedy that as soon as possible. We hope the Chief Judge will engage going forward to ensure our laws and our courts protect all families – including LGBTQ families.

We cannot turn away from our collective obligation to ensure Rhode Island parentage law is constitutional and works for all families that exist right now across the state. We urge the legislature to pass the Senate version of the Rhode Island Parentage Act. We cannot leave Rhode Island’s children vulnerable.

Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders works in New England and nationally to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation.

LGBTQ Action RI is an advocacy organization dedicated to securing equality and justice for LGBTQ Rhode Islanders through legislative and policy advocacy.