I'm still excited about our new law in DC that makes both lesbian partners the parents of the child that one of them gives birth to if her partner consented to the insemination with the intent to parent or if the couple is married or registered domestic partners. If you missed the details, check this post.
I've gotten an update from Dutch law professor Kees Waaldijk on the status of lesbian couples as parents in Europe. Kees publishes an amazing amount of scholarship and analysis about LGBT law in Europe. Lucky for us, he publishes a lot of it in English, or translates it into English on his website.
Recently, Kees compiled the information about when lesbian couples can be recognized as the legal parents of the child that one of them gives birth to -- without having to go through adoption. The first thing to say about these laws is that they apply only when conception occurs through assisted reproduction. That is not as much of a problem as the fact that all require that insemination with donor semen take place in a medical facility. So, lesbian couples in Iceland, Norway, and the United Kingdom (not in Northern Ireland) can both be recognized as legal parents, but not if they perform the insemination at home. Legal status for both women is available in Spain and Sweden as well (also only when the insemination is medically assisted), but in those countries the couple must be married.
So on the one hand it looks like the US is behind Europe again (think registered domestic partnership in Denmark in 1989 -- 11 years before Vermont authorized civil unions). On the other hand, assisted conception laws written beginning in the 1970's in the US were often limited to situations in which doctors performed the inseminations. Our 21st century model laws all eliminate that requirement. And our models laws do not require the couple to be married. It's true that the 2002 Uniform Parentage Act is limited to a man and a woman who have a child using assisted conception, but they do not have to be married. The Model Act from the American Bar Association is gender-neutral and marital status-neutral, and it serves as a basis for our statute in DC.
I'm glad to see Europe moving forward on parentage rights. For a long time European countries recognized partners but prohibited second parent adoption. Now second parent adoption of a partner's biological child is available in Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. But for laws creating parentage without the need for adoption, I'll take DC's over all of these. Australia and some Canadian provinces also make the partner of a woman who gives birth after donor insemination the parent of the child without needing to adopt -- and none of those places require either that the couple be married or in a registered/formalized relationship or that they use medical services to conceive.
The European countries seem to be copying each other. It's progress. But it's not the gold standard.