The Fight for Equality ContinuesJuly 23, 2015
Veterans Fertility Bill WithdrawnAugust 13, 2015
Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the legalization of same-sex marriage made one recent court case a cinch for U.S. District Judge Dee Benson. In West Jordan, Utah, wives Angie and Kami Roe are beaming with joy that both of their names will go on their child’s birth certificate.
The premise of the lawsuit was based on the fact that the State of Utah should view wedded lesbians the same exact way as heterosexual couples who utilize sperm donors to build a family.
According to Lindsay Whitehurst from the Associated Press, Utah distinguishes a husband who needs the assistance of a sperm donor for reproduction. However, the attorney general’s office in Utah held their position that this recognition did not encompass same-sex couples since marriage was different in terms of having children.
The state attorney’s court documents spelled out, “It is a fact that a non-biologically related female spouse can never be the biological father of a child.” And they add, “It is a biological impossibility for a woman who does not give birth to a child to establish paternity of a child through the act of birth.”
Well, that has all changed now, hasn’t it?
In the ruling, Judge Benson said that the reproduction case for the Roe family was not hard to decide with the Supreme Court landmark decision in June.
At the bench, Benson told the courtroom, “The state has failed to demonstrate any legitimate reason, actually any reason at all, for not treating a female spouse in a same-sex marriage the same as a male spouse in an opposite-sex marriage.”
And the judge was absolutely right. Really, this is the only ruling he could have made especially in light of Obergefell v. Hodges.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, a ruling in favor of same-sex couples such as this was the first of its kind since the legalization of gay marriage. Additionally, cases mirroring this one have been filed in courthouses throughout the nation.
It will be interesting to see which way the future rulings lean.
Whitehurst also brought readers up to courtroom speed with Parker Douglas’ legal maneuver from the Utah Attorney General’s Office. He told the judge, “…that listing non-biological parents on a birth certificate could throw off state record-keeping and disrupt the ability of authorities to identify public health trends.”
Though a nice tactic, it was fruitless.
The judge fired back that the same “record-keeping” challenges could occur when married couples who are heterosexual use sperm donors for third-party reproduction.
Touché, Judge Benson.
Outside the courtroom, Douglas was asked whether his office planned to appeal. He declined to comment on that matter.
Circling back, Kami Roe gave birth to her baby this past February. If Benson ruled in the other direction, Roe’s wife may have been forced to undergo the process of stepparent adoption.
The wives both said such a pathway was, “costly, invasive and unfair.”
Douglas NeJamie, law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, told the Associated Press that this Utah ruling may have an effect on future pending cases.
“…the parental rights of same-sex couples will depend on what state laws are already on the books for heterosexual couples,” he said.
Everyone in favor of equality agrees that the issue of same-sex families must quicken its pace to catch up with the legalization of gay marriage so it may continue to unravel the threads of discrimination.