Gay Parents | Texas

Gay Texas Fathers Denied Parenthood Of Biological Sons: AUDIO

Joe Riggs and Jason Hanna

This is a whole new level of regressive behavior, and it's just jaw-dropping in its cruelty.

Texas has made it quite clear that it refuses to recognize legally-wed same-sex couples for the time being, despite judge after judge ruling the ban unconstitutional. However, despite the abuse and discrimination that gay parents are often subject to socially in the Lone Star State, the government hasn't stepped in to discriminate on the basis of biological parenthood...until now.

Hanna_riggsJason Hanna and Joe Riggs are the biological fathers of twin sons Lucas and Ethan - one father per son - who were carried to term by surrogate mother CharLynn, who bears no biological connection to the boys, reports SiriusXM host and Gay Voices editor Michelangelo Signorile.

However, because Texas doesn't recognize legally-wed gay couples it opens up judges to use their own discretion on cases such as Hanna and Riggs', and in this case a presiding judge determined that neither father is represented on either child's birth certificate as a father...but CharLynn is on both as their mother.

To repeat: the boys' biological fathers are not on their birth certificates as parents, but their non-biological surrogate mother is and is listed as their mother.

All of this despite precedence for their case existing within Texas and even providing DNA results to the court. Adding salt to the wound, the judge also ruled that neither could be an adoptive parent of the other's son. This is especially worrisome, as Hanna points out:

Without [co-adoption], if something happened to either me or Joe we don’t have any legal recourse to keep the other’s biological child. The state could come in and separate these two brothers…We want to reiterate how important it is for a state to recognize each family, whether it's same-sex or opposite-sex, and really to ensure everyone has equal protection from the state.

 SiriusXM radio host Michelangelo Signorile interviewed the couple:

They also did an interview with FOX4 News, AFTER THE JUMP...

Dallas News |

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  1. Cruel is right. There's a special place in hell for this judge, and I hope it's next to that Pennsylvania judge who was accepting kickbacks to send juveniles to private prison in exchange for money. The unbelievable viciousness of some people is mystifying.

    Posted by: Dback | Jun 18, 2014 6:51:01 PM

  2. If you are LGBT in TX and can possibly get out of the state, I recommend it. Better to do it now, before the climate there gets much worse than this. This looks like the beginnings of a pogrom.

    Posted by: Martin | Jun 18, 2014 6:59:17 PM

  3. Get the Frell Out of Texas. Oh, and fund the surrogate's appeal of this ruling - because I suppose someone must remain in Texas to have grounds to appeal, and an appeal must happen. If that's not the case, get out of Texas AND appeal. Sheesh, this is disgusting.

    Posted by: Zlick | Jun 18, 2014 7:00:39 PM

  4. No matter the economic reasons, those two (four, counting the children) need to get out of that third world country. If it's social reasons, their families can visit. Actually, their families and every one they know should get out of that hell hole.

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Jun 18, 2014 7:12:24 PM

  5. Sign.When can I move out from this dumbass state?

    Posted by: ppp | Jun 18, 2014 7:15:04 PM

  6. This is obviously a travesty of the law and parental rights that only Texas would dare try. The question I have is why would ANY gay couple or even single gay person live in Texas? Of all the states, Texas will possibly be the last holdout to recognize our right to be treated with respect and dignity and be afforded the same rights as straight Texans.
    The state that gives us Rick Perry, George Bush 1 & 2, Ted Cruz, militias, gun nuts, tea party extremists, secessionists, religious hypocrites, racists, high hair, and the twin armpits of Houston and El Paso...should be the last place to live.
    And yes, we have Jan Brewer, Sheriff Arpaio, and a full cast of crazies on the right that make Arizona sometimes just as bad, but still better than Texas.

    Posted by: azmike | Jun 18, 2014 7:17:18 PM

  7. Why would ANY decent person step foot in Texas? Sorry I know and love a lot of people from there but I will never cross the border willingly. I understand the urge to stay and fight but enought is enough.

    Posted by: pete | Jun 18, 2014 7:33:16 PM

  8. I'd like to see the Supreme Court give this judge a smack-down. For the sake of their family, I hope these guys move out of Texas ASAP.

    Posted by: Owens | Jun 18, 2014 7:34:37 PM

  9. Simple Answer. Your children are the most important responsibility in your life, and they deserve every protection you can possibly provide them. Move to a different state once you can find a job in that ME state, get married, adopt, and then don't return to TX until after the US Supreme Court has made ME nationwide in the next few years, and your children would be protected when you return. Nothing is worth your staying in that sad state at this time, as jeopardizing your children's well-being should be paramount at this point their young lives. Only in TX would this be the result.

    Posted by: Keith | Jun 18, 2014 7:34:41 PM

  10. To be fair, the lax regulatory regime in Texas that results in things like huge chemical factory explosions also results in one of the most booming job markets in the U.S., and people are flocking there out of economic necessity.

    But when your twin boys are potentially in danger, you must find a way to leave!

    Posted by: Zlick | Jun 18, 2014 7:36:27 PM

  11. Man, I need to edit better. I meant to say, "Nothing is worth your staying in that sad state at this time, and not risking or jeopardizing your children's well-being should be your paramount concern at this point their young lives. Only in TX would this be the result." Amazing what a few missing words can do to change the context of a message. Sorry.

    Posted by: Keith | Jun 18, 2014 7:36:47 PM

  12. Man, I need to edit better. I meant to say, "Nothing is worth your staying in that sad state at this time, and not risking or jeopardizing your children's well-being should be your paramount concern at this point their young lives. Only in TX would this be the result." Amazing what a few missing words can do to change the context of a message. Sorry.

    Posted by: Keith | Jun 18, 2014 7:36:48 PM

  13. My god. At least when anti-marriage equality activists argue in the courts, they have the decency to try and hide their bigotry behind some phony argument like "we want what's best for the children" so that it doesn't sound as insulting and personal.

    The contempt and cruelty of this decision is so unashamedly blatant that you almost have to applaud the judge for having the balls to do something so awful.

    Posted by: Moony | Jun 18, 2014 7:37:38 PM

  14. Why does ANYONE live in that rat hole state? I say the US should remove it from the union and our nation will be vastly stronger for it's leaving.

    Posted by: john | Jun 18, 2014 7:38:19 PM

  15. Is there anything we can do to help this family, like a legal defense fund or something? This is just so batshit wrong that I actually want to do something besides leave an Internet comment and feel angry for 30 seconds. Seriously. This sets a VERY BAD PRECEDENT, especially for future gay fathers who might find themselves in the same situation.

    Posted by: bernard | Jun 18, 2014 7:54:11 PM

  16. @ John

    I lived in TX because I am Texas resident, the tuition is much cheaper for in state. There are plenty reasons why we are stuck. However, from promotion of ex-gay to this, I will definitely get out after I finish my school.

    Posted by: ppp | Jun 18, 2014 7:57:37 PM

  17. Seriously, these men had the money and the organizational skills to have these two children, but they never once thought to move someplace civilized to raise them?

    They are doing nobody in their family any favors by having their family in this hideous, awful, backwards hellhole.

    Maybe they will be able to eventually have some good come from all of this, maybe they will change laws and make lives better for others, but, in the meantime, all of their lives are in jeopardy -- and only because they insist on living someplace horrific.

    If you're sincerely trapped someplace you can't leave, I get it and I sympathize, but what were these two thinking?

    Posted by: oncemorewithfeeling | Jun 18, 2014 8:07:01 PM

  18. I'm very distraught over this, and I'm trying to understand the backstory. I clicked through to the HuffingtonPost article. There, it says that the judge said that under current law she could not grant the request, although the HuffPost article said others were successful in parallel requests. Does anyone know the law(s) cited? Does anyone know the judge's reputation? Has she made any rulings in the past along these lines? Again, just trying to understand the fuller picture. Frankly, I was very surprised to find the judge was a woman. I automatically assumed the judge was a rabid Christian man. I agree with many other commenters who said that, for the time being, the couple needs to leave TX to protect their family.

    Posted by: Hawthorne | Jun 18, 2014 8:14:57 PM

  19. The Texas GOP and its right-wing-nut, Tea Batty sycophants are ruled by christian fundamentalist filth and evangelical effluvia. This is your future, America, if you continue to elect Republicans to positions of power.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Jun 18, 2014 8:29:12 PM

  20. "This is a whole new level of regressive behavior"

    Uh, no it isn't. This has been going on for decades, and you have to be completely clueless, like these two idiots, to not be aware of that.

    What's especially galling is that they have the financial means, unlike so many other couples, to move to a state where they wouldn't be placed in this situation. I am all for fighting against unjust laws, but you don't subject an infant to that.

    Posted by: bleh | Jun 18, 2014 8:34:50 PM

  21. Martin, Id gay people run away from hostility, then progress is never made. Every state that now recognizes gay marriages and parenting at one time was as hostile as a state which doesn't. Do not forget that it wasn't too long ago that Californians voted for Prop 8.

    Posted by: Enchantra | Jun 18, 2014 8:35:11 PM

  22. Why would the biological father's name be prohibited from being put on the birth certificate of his respective baby? The article doesn't touch upon that.

    Posted by: Boston | Jun 18, 2014 8:36:12 PM

  23. This story should be the lede in the New York Times, 60 Minutes, Frontline, and every other credible news outlet. There are so many aspects of this situation that are so wrong. I doubt if even Fox News could spin a report that would make Texas look justified in ruining the lives of this family,

    Yes, these guys would be far better off in a more civilized state, but give them credit for staying and fighting for their rights. Our national equality organizations should spare no expense in coming to their aid.

    Posted by: JonnyNYNY2FLFL | Jun 18, 2014 8:39:51 PM

  24. This is horrible. I have an idea these men have the means to hire a top-notch lawyer. I'm with poster Bernard on this. Wonder if the ACLU will step in? I think this needs major play in the mainstream media. Celebs? Please keep tabs on this Towleroad, and give us updates.

    Posted by: throwslikeagirl | Jun 18, 2014 8:44:58 PM

  25. This judge is obviously mentally unbalanced that is the only explanation for such 14th century barbarism. He needs to be removed from the bench and TX law needs to come forward into this century.

    Posted by: I wont grow up | Jun 18, 2014 8:47:06 PM

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