Distinguished Visiting Lecture 2022

  • Lecturer: Professor Douglas NeJaime, Yale University
  • Date: April 20, 2022
  • Time: 12:15 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.
  • Location: Room 114, College of Law; online (register below)
  • Lecture Title: True Parenthood
  • CLE: Approved for 1.0 CLE in OH and KY both virtually and in person.
  • Registration: register online 


Judges, lawmakers, commentators, and the public routinely assume that a child’s true parents are her biological parents. Legislatures too often adopt parentage laws that exclude nonbiological parents. Courts too often prefer an absent biological parent over a person who has been parenting the child but in the absence of a biological connection. While this preoccupation with biological parenthood presents itself as a natural and pre-political fact, it is in reality a modern construction. And it harms too many families, perpetuating troubling forms of exclusion and depriving children of the consistent parental care they deserve. This is not to say that biology does not matter. Instead, a focus on parent-child relationships that exist in fact, across diverse family forms, leads us to think about the biology of parenthood differently. Parenthood, as a biological concept, reflects the social dimensions of parenting. As emerging research on the parenting brain suggests, the “biological parent” is the person who commits to parenting and consistently cares for the child. It is that person, regardless of their genetic or gestational status, who is the child’s true parent.

About the Lecture

The Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law was endowed by Stanley M. Chesley (’60) and Judge Susan Dlott in 2006 to bring outstanding legal scholars of national and international prominence in all areas of law to the College. 

About the Lecturer

Paul Butler

Douglas NeJaime is Anne Urowsky Professor of Law at Yale Law School, where he teaches in the areas of family law, legal ethics, law and sexuality, and constitutional law. Before joining the Yale faculty in 2017, NeJaime was Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law, where he served as Faculty Director of the Williams Institute, a research institute on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy. He has also served on the faculties at UC Irvine School of Law and Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, and was Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. NeJaime is the co-author of Family Law in a Changing America (with Ralph Richard Banks, Joanna Grossman, and Suzanne Kim), Cases and Materials on Sexuality, Gender Identity, and the Law (with Carlos Ball, Jane Schacter, and William Rubenstein), and Ethical Lawyering: Legal and Professional Responsibilities in the Practice of Law (with Paul Hayden). His recent scholarship includes: “Answering the Lochner Objection: Reexamining Substantive Due Process and the Role of Courts in a Democracy,” 96 N.Y.U. Law Review (forthcoming 2021); “The Constitution of Parenthood,” 72 Stanford Law Review 261 (2020); “The Nature of Parenthood,” 126 Yale Law Journal 2260 (2017); “Marriage Equality and the New Parenthood,” 129 Harvard Law Review 1185 (2016); “Conscience Wars: Complicity-Based Conscience Claims in Religion and Politics,” 124 Yale Law Journal 2516 (2015), with Reva Siegel; and “Before Marriage: The Unexplored History of Nonmarital Recognition and Its Relationship to Marriage,” 102 California Law Review 87 (2014). On three occasions, NeJaime has received the Dukeminier Award, which recognizes the best sexual orientation legal scholarship published in the previous year. He has also been the recipient of the YLW Faculty Excellence Award at Yale Law School, the Women’s Law Association teaching award at Harvard Law School, the Professor of the Year Award at UC Irvine School of Law, and the Excellence in Teaching Award at Loyola Law School. NeJaime has been a leader on national efforts to reform parentage laws to accommodate families that feature nonbiological parent-child relationships, including those formed by same-sex couples and through assisted reproduction. NeJaime led the effort to pass comprehensive parentage reform in Connecticut, serving as the principal drafter of the Connecticut Parentage Act, Public Act 21-15, which passed with near-unanimous support in both chambers of the legislature and was signed by Governor Ned Lamont in 2021.