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Bill Could Label TN Children Born Via Artificial Insemination "Illegitimate"

A bill introduced in the Tennessee Legislature could label children conceived via artificial insemination as "illegitimate." (sabianmaggy/Flickr)
A bill introduced in the Tennessee Legislature could label children conceived via artificial insemination as "illegitimate." (sabianmaggy/Flickr)
February 15, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – LGBT advocates are joining parent advocates in expressing concerns over the consequences of HB 1406.

The bill, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver of Lancaster, would repeal a 1977 state law that declared children born as a result of artificial insemination to be the legitimate offspring of a husband and wife.

While the legislation is being perceived as targeting same-sex couples, Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, says all parents who opt for artificial insemination should be concerned.

"If a man and a woman used artificial insemination, the father would no longer be presumed to be the father, just because he was married to his wife," he said. "We think there will be lots of unintended consequences and clearly, we think the intended consequence is to target our community."

The bill would classify a child conceived by insemination as illegitimate. Weaver says she filed the bill because the law is unconstitutional and says it isn't her intention to affect same-sex couples.

The Human Rights Campaign places Tennessee at "greatest" risk for anti-LGBT legislation in 2017 in its annual report. Last week, the controversial "bathroom bill" was introduced to the Tennessee Legislature. It would force public-school students to use the restroom associated with the gender listed on their birth certificates.

Sanders has some theories as to the timing of such legislation.

"We're next door to North Carolina; there may be some influence there," he added. "I think our lawmakers look at bills that were filed in other states. I think also, when you have a party with a super-majority, you are seeing some extreme elements emerge that want to test the limits and see how far they can go."

In addition to HB 1406, Gov. Bill Haslam signed legislation last year that allows therapists to reject clients if their therapy goes against practitioners' beliefs, which is concerning to LGBT advocates.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN