Almost a year after beginning the process in the US for registering their son as a Cuban citizen, Dachelys Valdes Moreno and Hope Bastian finally received his birth certificate on June 18th, which features both of them as his mothers.
Paulo was born in Florida, where his mother Hope is from and where they managed to receive assisted reproductive treatment, after they discovered that this kind of procedure would be impossible for a female couple in Cuba.
Furthermore, in this State, when a married woman gives birth, the children are legally recognized as belonging to the couple, so both Dachelys and Hope are recognized as the mothers on their son’s birth certificate in Florida.
Before returning to the island, where the family permanently resides, they began the process to register Paulo as the son of a Cuban citizen born abroad, a process that begins at the Cuban embassy in the country of birth.
It is a relatively simple procedure in the case of heterosexual families, but in their specific case, it meant waiting for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice (MINJUS) to find a way to validate Paulo’s birth certificate, with his two mothers, in the Civil Registry of Acts and Events of Cubans Abroad. This would mean legally recognizing a lesbian-mother family in a country where same-sex marriage still doesn’t exist.
Dachelys says that the situation was resolved with a ruling from MINJUS, which stipulates that the ministry, while not recognizing the marriage between the two women, has approved of a certificate being issued where instead of “mother and father”, the configuration “mother and mother” appear, like it appears in the original birth certificate issued at the Florida hospital where the child was born.
“According to the ruling, parentage is a legal component based on biology and our laws do not recognize a child born to two mothers, but, at the same time, admitted that the Family Registration Law dates back to over 30 years ago, so it isn’t in keeping with today’s family dynamics,” they explained in a statement as the ruling hasn’t oficially been delivered to them.
The document ratified that the Law acts in the superior interest of the child, and that the Cuban Constitution protects the fact that people make up families however they please and they can’t be discriminated against for any reason.
The birth certificate they received in Havana established that “the registration is made by virtue of both mothers as this is a case of double maternity, which has its legal basis in Article 7 of the Cuban Constitution, which also recognizes the right to form a family, no matter how it is comprised and it ensures the superior interest of the child and his/her right to be registered.”
Lawyer Amaya Alvarez Gonzalez notes that the Ministry of Justice has resolved situations like this one where there wasn’t a specific law with a ruling from this body’s board, like it did when the first group of transgender people were able to change their name in the late ‘90s.
She says that from the optimism of Law, lawyers have always seen how [these processes] start off at the summit but then give way for this practice to become decentralized and procedures are created so that they don’t have to be dealt with by the most senior officials in this body.
According to the lawyer, it’s lucky that a case like this has come around and that it becomes well-known so as to contribute to the learning of professionals in this sector. It also encourages them to think about similar situations that might arise in the future, especially those who work within one of the structures linked to a person’s civil status, like Immigration and Foreign citizens services, for example.
Hope believes this “it’s a very important step forward because it is the first time that the Cuban government is recognizing that children can be born to two mothers. Today, the Government is recognizing the fact that Cuban families can be constituted in many different ways, which are all legitimate and legal.”
*This article was originally published in Q de Cuir magazine.