Lesbian Parental-Rights Case Draws Attention

By: Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida
By: Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida
State and national legal groups are trying to sway the Florida Supreme Court in a parental-rights case that pits two lesbian partners who used in-vitro fertilization to have a child but later ended their relationship.

AP

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, June 5, 2012

Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida

State and national legal groups are trying to sway the Florida Supreme Court in a parental-rights case that pits two lesbian partners who used in-vitro fertilization to have a child but later ended their relationship.

The Brevard County case is unprecedented in Florida because the fertilized egg of one woman was implanted in her then-partner, who gave birth. The couple began raising the child together, but a legal battle began after a break-up that included the birth mother moving to Australia with the child.

The 5th District Court of Appeal in December ruled that the woman who provided the egg should have parental rights, which led to the case going to the Supreme Court. During the past two weeks, groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and a coalition of law-school clinics and centers at four Florida universities have urged the Supreme Court to uphold the appeals-court ruling.

Briefs filed in the case raise constitutional questions and grapple with a state law aimed largely at the waiver of parental rights by egg or sperm donors. A group of attorneys that specializes in such issues said there is an increased use of reproductive procedures by same-sex couples, unmarried heterosexual couples and single people.

"As a result, state courts across the country increasingly are being called upon to decide the legal parentage of children born through assisted reproduction under circumstances not specifically addressed by legislation --- as this court must do in this case,'' the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys said in a brief.

The ACLU and Lambda Legal, a prominent group that works on gay and lesbian civil-rights issues, argued in a brief that the Supreme Court should protect the psychological relationship between the child and the woman who provided the egg. Beyond that, the groups contend that state laws dealing with egg or sperm donations violate the equal-protection rights of lesbian couples in committed relationships.

"Florida's donor insemination statutes discriminate based on sex and sexual orientation by treating women who provide genetic material to their female partners for (the) purpose of creating a child they intend to raise together differently from men who provide genetic material to their female partners for the same purpose,'' the brief says.

But attorneys for the birth mother said in an April brief that nothing in state law allows the designation of two same-sex people as birth parents. The document says the 5th District Court of Appeal "created a unique and unsupportable legal fiction that a child may have two mothers."

"Florida law has long disfavored providing certain rights based on same-sex relationships,'' the brief said."There is no recognition of same-sex marriage or rights, constitutionally or statutorily."

It is unclear when the Supreme Court might take up the case. Documents do not identify the two women or the child, who is now eight years old.

The documents, however, provide an outline of the relationship, which lasted from 1995 until 2006. The birth mother was infertile, so the couple decided to implant a fertilized egg from the other woman.

The women separated in 2006 --- when the child was two years old --- but contact ended in December 2007 when the birth mother moved, according to a brief filed by attorneys for the other woman. The birth mother was ultimately located in Queensland, Australia.

A brief filed last month by attorneys for the woman seeking parental rights said she always intended to help raise the child and that the state law dealing with egg or sperm donors should not apply to the case. The brief refers to the woman who provided the egg as the "biological" mother.

"The biological mother did not intend to give her ova away, but instead intended to be, and was, a mother to the child born from her ova for several years,'' the brief said.

The woman who provided the egg has received support in briefs from the ACLU, Lambda Legal, the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys, the National Association of Social Workers and law-school clinics or centers that focus on children's issues at the University of Florida, the University of Miami, Nova Southeastern University and Barry University.

But attorneys for the birth mother said in a brief that granting parental rights to the woman who provided the egg would require action by the Legislature.

"Mere genetic participation is not sufficient to create a right to contact and parenting,'' the brief said.


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  • by Frank on Jun 7, 2012 at 06:02 AM
    Would a parent trust the care of [their] child to someone who has a known sexual perversion? I think not.
  • by Bolillo Location: Wakulla on Jun 6, 2012 at 09:53 AM
    Back when in-vitro was being "invented" it was governmentally funded under the guise (lie) that it would help infertile couples (hetero's)have children. It was questioned then that gay couples would misuse it, but back then no one thought we'd ever stoop that low......
    • reply
      by Tallynole on Jun 6, 2012 at 11:42 AM in reply to Bolillo
      Procreation is stooping that low? I thought the GOP was all about the rights of a child to live... Now you are saying this child never should have been allowed to be born?
      • reply
        by God bless America on Jun 7, 2012 at 06:54 AM in reply to Tallynole
        another liberal spinning....
    • reply
      by Tallynole on Jun 6, 2012 at 11:44 AM in reply to Bolillo
      P.s. please link to one report that ever stated this when in-vitro fertilization was being developed... BTW Billy-Bobs blog doesn't count...
  • by Dee on Jun 6, 2012 at 07:20 AM
    What's with wedding rings as a pic for this article?
    • reply
      by truth on Jun 6, 2012 at 09:21 AM in reply to Dee
      notice the rainbow colors in the background!!!!!
  • by Anonymous on Jun 6, 2012 at 04:40 AM
    If obama had a kid it would be like this.
    • reply
      by truth on Jun 6, 2012 at 06:22 AM in reply to
      no he would look like you!!!
    • reply
      by LOL on Jun 6, 2012 at 06:55 AM in reply to
      with skittles....
    • reply
      by d on Jun 8, 2012 at 03:15 PM in reply to
      he has to girls you idiot !
  • by Frances on Jun 6, 2012 at 04:33 AM
    This case highlights why homosexuals should not be allowed to use in-vitro. Whatever they do behind closed doors is their own business. But don't bring kids into the mess. Naturally they cannot produce children, which is how it should be.
    • reply
      by Mitch on Jun 6, 2012 at 07:41 AM in reply to Frances
      Then that same standard should apply to any infertile heterosexual couple, since they cannot naturally produce children. And, heterosexual couples also create many, many family law messes.
      • reply
        by Jones on Jun 6, 2012 at 09:02 AM in reply to Mitch
        Bigots like Frances always forget your point.
    • reply
      by Tallynole on Jun 6, 2012 at 11:37 AM in reply to Frances
      How is this any different than a married heterosexual custody battle?!? Just because they are homosexual you have to show your ignorance.
      • reply
        by Dee on Jun 6, 2012 at 04:34 PM in reply to Tallynole
        You are the one who is obviously ignorant about human reproduction. A child is produced by 2 elements - an egg from the female and a sperm from the male. Therefore, BOTH parents have equal rights in the case of a heterosexual custody battle. I really shouldn't have to explain this, as it's 9th grade Biology, but with a homosexual couple, obviously one of the "couple" contributed nothing to the child, genetically. Just more prima facia evidence that this nonsense should not happen. As others have said, let consenting adults do anything they want with another consenting adult - just don't bring kids into the mess.
        • reply
          by Tallynole on Jun 7, 2012 at 04:29 AM in reply to Dee
          @Dee Please get an education... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haploidisation#Haploidisation
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Jun 7, 2012 at 09:55 AM in reply to Dee
          Just wait until they can merge the eggs to make a fertile one. Or from two homosexual guys they make an egg and the other provides the sperm and they get a female friend to birth. But parents are parents no matter the sexual origintation, some will be good, some bad, some will break up, and so on.
        • reply
          by Tallynole on Jun 7, 2012 at 02:21 PM in reply to Dee
          @Anonymous apparently some of the moderators are anti science and wont post some of my stuff.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaguya_(mouse)
  • by Transfer Not Implant Location: Tallahassee on Jun 6, 2012 at 02:03 AM
    You can't implant an embryo into someone, you transfer the embryo. Please get it right.
  • by God Bless America on Jun 5, 2012 at 06:27 PM
    It takes a man and a woman to raise a family. period! All the ribbing and ridicule the poor child has to take in school.
    • reply
      by Chicken Gutz on Jun 6, 2012 at 03:20 AM in reply to God Bless America
      Dunce: it takes a woman without a period to raise a family.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Jun 6, 2012 at 05:52 AM in reply to Chicken Gutz
        GOOD ONE!
      • reply
        by truth on Jun 6, 2012 at 05:59 AM in reply to Chicken Gutz
        it takes a village to raise a child period!!!
        • reply
          by wondering on Jun 6, 2012 at 08:14 AM in reply to truth
          How about giving us an example of an existing village in which we can have a child properly raised?
        • reply
          by Jane on Jun 6, 2012 at 11:56 AM in reply to truth
          @truth - you are correct! @wondering - I attended the memorial service for an amazing young man on Saturday who was raised by a village right here in Tallahassee. There were a few hundred people there to show their respects and they were from all backgrounds and beliefs and not one had an unkind word to say about Joshua. You can never have too many people love a child.
      • reply
        by God Bless America on Jun 6, 2012 at 06:11 AM in reply to Chicken Gutz
        What's your point?
    • reply
      by Mitch on Jun 6, 2012 at 07:46 AM in reply to God Bless America
      Wow, those poor single-parent families out there. So sorry for them to learn that they are not a family, especially if the situation was created by tragedy.
  • by Jane on Jun 5, 2012 at 05:58 PM
    I agree with GOP that this child is growing up in confusion, but not because the child has two mothers. The child is growing up in confusion because one of these parents apparently hates her ex more than she loves her child. You see the same alienation of affection in heterosexual divorces all the time. The difference is that the law looks at heterosexual parents differently and in the eyes of Lady Justice, we are ALL supposed to be equal. Or maybe that's just what they tell us in school....
  • by Anonymous on Jun 5, 2012 at 04:04 PM
    this is exactly why I don't approve of single sex parents. What a tangled web these two have weaved.
    • reply
      by Tallynole on Jun 6, 2012 at 11:39 AM in reply to
      You are right... It doesn't weave any webs when a child has 3 half siblings and none of them share the same 2 parents...
  • by Anonymous on Jun 5, 2012 at 02:44 PM
    This is obviously the most important issue of our lives. www.http://usdebtclock.org/
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