This week, the Louisiana House of Representatives gave final approval to SB 162, a bill which would provide legal recognition for certain kinds of contracts for gestational surrogacy. Currently, Louisiana does not recognize as legally binding any kind of arrangement that intended parents might make with a surrogate mother in order to have children. SB 162 would provide legal recognition and protections to married couples who are both able to donate gametes in order to conceive a child with a surrogate carrying the pregnancy to term.
If you’re thinking that definition sounds rather restrictive, you’re right. This bill does not permit single people or same-sex couples to form valid surrogacy contracts, nor does it permit couples in which one or both partners are infertile to conceive a child with the help of donor gametes and a surrogate. This has the effect of excluding most of the people who might choose surrogacy in the first place, and for these and other reasons the bill has been opposed by groups like Equality Louisiana, Forum for Equality, Louisiana Progress, and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
Unfortunately, thanks to a surprise amendment on the House floor, the situation around this bill has abruptly gotten even worse. Rep. Frank Hoffmann (R-West Monroe) offered the following amendment, which was accepted without objection:
“If the United States Supreme Court finds that Article XII, Section 15 of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974 or the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman, is unconstitutional, the provisions of this Act shall be null, void, and given no effect.”
Rep. Hoffmann is apparently so concerned that same-sex couples might be able to get married in Louisiana that he introduced a provision to repeal the entire surrogacy law if the Supreme Court overturns DOMA or Louisiana’s state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
It’s hard to overstate how bizarre and spiteful this is. Although the bill as written doesn’t actually help many families, the people it does benefit don’t deserve to have the rug pulled out from under them if the Supreme Court makes a ruling completely unrelated to the state of Louisiana or the issue of surrogacy. Even forcing Louisiana to recognize same-sex marriage still wouldn’t permit same-sex couples to conceive children with the help of a surrogate under this bill, because of the requirement that both intended parents donate gametes – this would be biologically impossible for a same-sex couple to accomplish.
This amendment is therefore as superfluous as it is mean-spirited – there is no reason at all to take extra caution to exclude same-sex couples from the law’s protection, because the bill does that quite well already. The only people this provision can actually hurt are, in fact, the families this law was written to benefit. When the conference committee meets to reconcile the different versions of this bill passed by the House and Senate, they should reject this amendment – all it does, all it can ever do, is harm a group of people who never asked to be dragged into the culture war over same-sex marriage. The very idea that we should take away rights from everyone if there’s the slightest possibility LGBT people might benefit too is unworthy of us, and if the bill passes with this amendment still attached to it, we should be ashamed that this was done in our name.
by Matthew Patterson