ALBANY NY (WRGB) - On Tuesday, Governor Cuomo launched the "Love Makes a Family" campaign to legalize gestational surrogacy and help support LGBTQ individuals and people struggling with fertility start families.
The campaign will include the creation of the Love Makes a Family Council, as well as a petition where New Yorkers can endorse the Governor's proposal, a new campaign website and video testimonials.
"New York was the first big state to pass marriage equality, and we are a national leader on LGBTQ rights," Governor Cuomo said. "It is shameful that we are only one of three states that does not allow LGBTQ individuals and people struggling with fertility to use gestational surrogacy to start families."
Current New York law prohibits gestational surrogacy, creating legal uncertainty for parents using reproductive technology to conceive a child. Forty-seven other states permit gestational surrogacy.
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The Governor's proposed legislation will establish criteria for surrogacy contracts and a surrogacy bill of rights that would provide the nation's strongest protections for surrogates and parents and streamline the "second parent adoption" process, removing outdated barriers and extending common-sense protections for New Yorkers looking to start their families.
Kristen Prata Browde, Board President, LGBT Bar Association of New York, said, "Surrogacy is how couples with fertility issues and LGBTQ New Yorkers get their families started. I'm grateful that Governor Cuomo is standing with us - as he has consistently - and I know that like us, he won't stop until this landmark legislation is the law in New York."
The legal process known as "Second Parent Adoption" currently presents many barriers to individuals, particularly same-sex couples, seeking to adopt their partner's biological child.
The process can take about a year and imposes many burdensome expenses, including lawyer's fees, court fees and fees for the mandatory home visit from a social worker that can cost up to $5,000.
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Petitioning parents must also provide a letter stating their position and salary, a letter from their primary physician, a letter from the child's pediatrician stating the child is in good health, a list of every residence the petitioning parent has lived in for the past 28 years and relevant financial information, in addition to providing fingerprints for a background check.
According to the Governor's Office, this new legislation would simplify and streamline this process by instead requiring a single visit to court to recognize legal parenthood while the child is in utero.
"This antiquated law is repugnant to our values and we must repeal it once and for all and enact the nation's strongest protections for surrogates and parents choosing to take part in the surrogacy process. This year we must pass gestational surrogacy and expedite the second parent adoption process to complete marriage and family equality." Governor Cuomo said.
The new legislation will:
Glennda Testone, Executive Director of The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, said, "LGBTQ New Yorkers continue to have to fight for the right to conceive by surrogacy, even as that right has been granted in many other states. New York State must lead by example in protecting and advancing the rights of LGBTQ people who simply desire to have a family, like so many other New Yorkers. Governor Cuomo's proposal shows that he continues to lead the charge for LGBTQ equality."
Andy Cohen said, "I came to New York years ago so I could live my life openly, but I had to leave New York to start my family. New York has long been a leader in advancing the interests of women and the LGBTQ community, and it's time to keep that tradition alive by passing the Child-Parent Security Act. With the Love Makes a Family Campaign, Governor Cuomo is leading the charge to protect modern families."
Members of the Love Makes a Family Council include: