Memphis state representative’s DNA bill making its way through TN legislature

TN bill would mandate DNA tests for unwed fathers
TN bill would mandate DNA tests for unwed fathers
Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 11:40 PM EDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A bill that would prevent unmarried men from claiming a child that isn’t biologically their own is making its way through the Tennessee legislature.

House Bill 2698 passed the Children and Family Affairs Subcommittee Wednesday but not without a challenge from the Tennessee Department of Human Services.

Memphis Representative Antonio Parkinson is sponsoring the House version of the bill. He says some constituents say they’ve been forced to pay child support after finding out a child they thought was their own was not.

“He presented the magistrate with the DNA findings,” said Representative Parkinson. “The magistrate said ‘somebody gotta take care of him referring to the child and it’s going to be you’ and gaveled him out.”

House Bill 2698, would require DNA evidence proving paternity before an unmarried man signs a birth certificate for a child that may not be biologically his.

“The state has been turning a blind eye to this by allowing people to sign blindly without any proof of DNA association to this child,” said Representative Parkinson. “Which is allowing people to be guilty in some cases of paternity fraud, which is a crime.”

However the Tennessee Department of Human Services says if made into law, their department could be at risk of losing about 52 million in federally matched dollars.

“I guess the concerns that we have is that the bill would possibly put us out of compliance with the federal regulations,” said Director of Operations of the Tennessee Department of Human Services Robert Duck.

After speaking with attorneys for the U-S Department of Human Services, Representative Parkinson says the bill would not affect the money the state receives.

“It’s only right and the moral thing to do and ethical thing to do to ensure the right people’s names that match their DNA is on that birth certificate,” said Representative Parkinson. “Anything other than that, you are stealing a child from a biological parent and it’s state sanctioned.”

The Senate version of the bill is up for a vote on the Senate floor Thursday, March 17. Representative Parkinson’s version will move to the Civil Justice Committee for a vote Wednesday, March 23.

Representative Parkinson asks those affected by a situation like this to reach out to him via e-mail at:

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