Parental Rights Triggers Lawsuit For Same-Sex Couple

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Parental Rights Triggers Lawsuit For Same-Sex Couple

Kami and Angie RoeAngie and Kami Roe were married on December 20, 2013 in Utah, and they have the court papers to prove it. They joined in union after a federal judge deemed same-sex marriage as constitutional.

The natural progression after they were married was to start building a family. In May 2014, the wives agreed upon using a sperm donor and that Kami would carry the baby.

Their daughter, Lucy, was born this past February.

The couple is now in a legal snafu, and the ACLU of Utah is stepping in to help.  Recently, the couple launched a lawsuit against the Utah Department of Health arguing that Angie should be permitted on the baby’s birth certificate.

Annie Cutler of Fox 13 Now reports, “Right now in the eyes of the law I’m not her parent,” Angie Roe said. “We just want to be treated the same under the law as opposite sex couples are.”

According to Cutler, Angie and Kami Roe want to be acknowledged under the state’s assisted reproduction statutes. In doing so, there is no reason for Angie to be forced into a stepparent adoption process for legal guardianship which could take up to a couple months.

Leah Farrell, attorney with the ACLU of Utah told the media, “A couple of months of waiting is not nothing. The security or the lack of security that are in those months is a real thing but beyond that there’s just the principle of equality that they are being treated differently just because of the gender of one of the people in the couple and that’s not right.”

There are some who claim to support equality, but feel that this process really is the road toward legal due diligence.

This group is voicing that Angie is being viewed by the law as a stepparent. For heterosexual couples, they say, a stepparent must go through the adoption process to become a legal guardian. The argument from this corner says it sounds “equal” since a child cannot possibly have two mothers, so the adoption process is more than fair since heterosexual couples who marry into an established family go through the same procedure.

This argument doesn’t sit well with me because the Angie and Roe were legally married at the time of conception.

The ACLU fires away in their court papers indicating, “A same-sex spouse and a different-sex spouse whose wife conceives through donor insemination are similarly situated in all relevant aspects.”  They continue, “The purpose of the statutes is to immediately establish parentage for a spouse who has consented to bringing a child into the world, whether or not that spouse shares a genetic relationship with the child.”

On the other side of the courtroom, the Utah Department of Health didn’t speak to the media but did release the following statement:

“While we have not had the opportunity to review today’s filing, we have been working for several months with both the ACLU and the plaintiffs in an attempt to reach a solution. Our hope is to resolve the issue at hand in a manner that serves the best interest of all parties.”

While other lawsuits have been heard in the courtroom referring to same-sex couples and parentage rights through adoption, this case is a trailblazer because it relates to assisted reproduction statues in the state of Utah.

Jennifer Dobner of The Salt Lake Union Tribune reports the court papers filed say, “Under Utah laws that govern assisted reproduction, however, only the husband of a woman who conceives through the use of donated sperm is automatically recognized as a child’s parent.”

The stepparent adoption that Angie Roe is being asked to do requires filing a petition for adoption, background check, a hearing for the judge’s ruling, and, of course, financial costs.

Angie Roe adds in her ACLU statement, “All we are asking is to be treated the way that other married couples are already treated under state law.”

With the changing climate in building families with third-party reproduction, state laws have to be more progressive and not so prohibitive for same-sex couples.