A Brief Timeline
- 1973 Uniform Parentage Act of 1973
- 1979 first adoption by a gay couple in the country (California)
- 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
- 1997 Hawaii first state to provide a classification of Domestic Partnership
- 2002 Uniform Parentage Act of 2002
- 2004 Massachusetts first state to legalize marriage of same-sex partners
- 2013 Obergefell v. Hodges—DOMA ruled unconstitutional
- 2017 Paven v. Smith—married same-sex partners have the right to have both names on the child’s birth certificate
- 2017 Uniform Parentage Act of 2017
Same-sex couples had been making lives together for years: cohabitating, owning property, having and raising children, dying, and, of course, breaking up. Family law attorneys excelled at the creative drafting of “partnership agreements,” “co-parenting agreements” and “co-habitation agreements” to end-run the marriage laws and opt-in to general contract law. Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 644, 680–681, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015), and the recognition that marriage was a fundamental right for all individuals regardless of their sexual orientation, opened the contract of marriage to same-sex families.
Following the rulings in Obergerfell and Pavan v. Smith, 137 S. Ct. 2075, 2078–79 (2017), there was a recognition that the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) was not keeping step with family dynamics, and a much-needed update to the original UPA of 1973 (revised in 2002) commenced. The purpose of the revision was to adjust language in parenting statutes—recognizing that the family unit could include different permutations than just a father and a mother. In 2012 the U.S. Census Bureau reported approximately 639,440 cohabiting same-sex couples in the United States. In 2020, seven years after the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that there were 568,110 married same-sex couples in the country as well as 412,166 cohabiting same-sex couples. As these couples are raising families together, a change in the UPA was necessary to protect the rights of children and of their parents.