A woman in Hawaii is trying to get her parental rights revoked by challenging the equal status of same-sex marriages.
Two women, identified in family court only as C.C. and D.D., got married in 2013 and, according to D.D., talked for years about having children. D.D. became pregnant in 2015 through a sperm donor when C.C. was deployed with the military.
Their relationship has since ended. C.C. tried to have her parental rights revoked, arguing that she did not consent to become a parent and therefore should not have to pay child support.
Hawaii, like many other states, presumes the spouse of a mother to be the parent of a child born during their marriage, no matter the genetic relationship between the spouse and the child.
LGBTQ activists have had to argue in favor of this in Arkansas and in Mississippi when neither state wanted to list female spouses on birth certificates and argued that it’s biologically impossible for a kid to have two mothers. Even though a husband might not have a genetic relationship with a child – and sometimes the parents know for sure that he does not, like when a sperm donor is used – he is always presumed to be the father and paternity is difficult to revoke, especially in the absence of the biological father.
C.C. has appealed the case to the Hawaii Supreme Court. Her lawyer argued that C.C. doesn’t have a relationship with the child, wasn’t there when the child was born, and did not consent to having the child.
I can only imagine how many deadbeat dads there are out there who would say the same thing.
Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ legal advocacy group, filed a brief arguing that a birth certificate is “more than a mere marker of biological relationships.”
In a statement, Lambda Legal’s Peter Renn explained that this case is fundamentally about whether same-sex marriages are equal to opposite-sex marriages. “As the U.S. Supreme Court recently made clear, there is no skim-milk marriage; marriage is marriage – for everyone.”
“Families are formed in different ways but the same rule applies: when a married couple decides to bring a child into this world, that child has two legal parents, regardless of their gender. A non-biological parent can’t invoke biology as a shield to evade parental responsibilities, just as a biological parent can’t wield biology as a sword to cut off a non-biological parent’s rights.”
This is one of the realities of marriage in the US. LGBTQ people should not be arguing that we’re exempt from it – either to deny parenthood to a spouse or to get out of child support – because a ruling that it’s OK to treat same-sex marriages differently from opposite-sex marriages is effectively the end of marriage equality.