A California bill known as AB1302 is a bureaucrat’s nightmare, or maybe it’s a real joy if you prefer a bundle of red tape and a meaningless, outdated government fixation on paper shuffling and secrecy.
Update: AB1302 is Dead for 2023
The bill failed to make it through required committees before deadline. Assembly Member Lackey, however, has converted the bill into a “two-year” bill, which means it can return in January 2024 and start again where it left off this year. So, let’s use our time now to our advantage.
California’s AB1302 is pending in the California Assembly, and the bill has now garnered growing opposition from all corners of the adoptee rights and birthparent advocacy world. The bill, disguised as a “step forward,” actually powers up the massive machinery of state secrecy at the moment an adult adopted person utters a single ghastly phrase: “I’d like a copy of my own original birth certificate.”
There’s no better way to show how byzantine and discriminatory AB1302 is except through this illustration (and PDF here). If this gives you a headache, that’s just one listed side effect of the bill.
Honestly, you don’t have to dig into the details of the illustration to understand what this bill is about: implementing arcane, 1970s-era “intermediary” systems that spread across the United States during the disco craze and are now a pile of broken down crappy Chevy Vegas (apparently legislative staffers are too afraid to tell their bosses how DNA works, in fear of actually broaching reality).
To fully understand the complexity of AB1302, take a look at current law in its simple but current discriminatory framework, which has existed in some form since at least 1935. We’re actually better off with a 1930s-era law than with AB1302 for one important reason: once you start creating new rights for birthparents by adding disclosure vetoes and redactions to the mix (as AB1302 does) it takes generations to undo them (see, e.g., Minnesota and all the other states that have embraced their own complex, backward, and now broken-down discriminatory frameworks).
And, at least current California law gives “great weight” to the fact that the adopted person is an adult (which courts currently ignore). AB1302 throws that out the window.
And if you prefer an illustration of how best practices on this issue works, how about Kansas, which has never denied adult adopted people their own birth records. Easy peasy equality.