(San Francisco, August 5, 2011)—Today, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Protection of Parent-Child Relationships Act (AB 1349). Authored by Assemblymember Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) and sponsored by Equality California and the Association of California Adoption Lawyers (ACAL), the law allows the courts to determine who a child’s parents are in cases where there is both a non-biological parent and a man who has signed a voluntary declaration of paternity.

“Parenting is more than just biology,” said Assemblyman Hill. “It’s about nurturing and a sacred bond between a child and a guardian that should not be severed by external forces.”

This bill fixes a problem caused by a recent case that said that courts cannot recognize a non-biological parent who has raised the child if another man signed a voluntary paternity declaration, even if the man who signed the declaration had no relationship with the child and no intention of raising the child.

Because of this case, children with non-biological parents are vulnerable to losing the parent they have always known. For example, when a same-sex or opposite-sex couple uses a sperm donor to conceive a child, if the couple later separates and the sperm donor and the biological mother sign a declaration of paternity, the non-biological parent may not be legally recognized as a parent.

“California courts must be able to take into consideration the established relationship between a parent and child when determining legal parentage,” said Equality California Executive Director Roland Palencia. “The Protection of Parent-Child relationship Act ensures that families are not broken up by preserving children’s established family relationships, including those of LGBTQ families. We thank Governor Brown, Assemblymember Hill, and allied lawmakers for championing this critical piece of legislation.”

The National Center for Lesbian Rights, attorneys Deborah Wald and Diane Goodman, and parent Kim Smith, who provided key testimony, were instrumental in making this important change in the law.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.