SAME-SEX PARENTS AND BIRTH REGISTRATION
Until very recently, same-sex parents could not register the birth of any children they chose to have together showing both same-sex parents on the registration. The Registrar of Vital Statistics required that one parent on the registration be male, and one female. The non-biological same-sex parent was required to go through a formal adoption in order to be recognized as the child’s other parent.
A recent case from the Ontario Superior Court strikes down this requirement, at least for lesbians. In a decision released June 6, 2006, the Ontario Superior Court has held that the Vital Statistics Act offends the Charter because it requires that babies be registered with one mother and one father. The case allows that at least in the case of lesbian couples, both women may be registered as parents of any children they choose to conceive together at the time the baby is born, without having to suffer the expense (and indignity) of a formal adoption.
The case may also leave open the possibility that more than two parents may be registered on a child’s birth record. For example, a child may have two biological parents and a different birth mother. It is possible, using the reasoning of this decision, to have all three parents registered as a child’s "parents".
The reasoning in the case likely supports two gay men being able to register as a child’s parents, without the need for one of the men to adopt the child.
This is a well-reasoned, well-written case. The court has carefully analyzed the appropriate case law under the Vital Statistics Act, as well as the Charter. The issue is a large social one, however, and it is possible that it may be appealed. A decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal on this issue would be more determinative than a decision of the Superior Court.
You can find this case at the following address: