Arizona Supreme Court: Married Same-Sex Couples Should Have Equal Parental Rights

Arizona Supreme Court: Married Same-Sex Couples Should Have Equal Parental Rights

Good news from The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) regarding McLaughlin v. McLaughlin where the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that a woman was the legal parent of the child she and her same-sex spouse conceived through assisted reproduction during their marriage.

Via press release:

As the Arizona Supreme Court recognized, the U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Obergefell v. Hodges and Pavan v. Smith require states to treat married same-sex parents and married different-sex parents equally under the law. The Arizona Supreme Court explained, “It would be inconsistent with Obergefell to conclude that same-sex couples can legally marry but states can then deny them the same benefits of marriage afforded opposite-sex couples.”

Suzan McLaughlin and Kimberly McLaughlin were a married lesbian couple who had a child in 2011 using an anonymous sperm donor. After separating in 2013, Kimberly stopped allowing Suzan to see their child, and Suzan filed a legal action to be recognized as a parent.

Both the Arizona Court of Appeals and the trial court held that Suzan should indeed be recognized as a legal parent to her child. NCLR and Arizona attorney Claudia Work represented Suzan.

Since the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court marriage equality decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, numerous cases have recognized that married same-sex parents and married different-sex parents must be treated equally under the law.

In June 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Pavan v. Smith, another National Center for Lesbian Rights case, that Obergefell required states to treat married same-sex parents and married different-sex parents equally.

Arizona law assumes the man in a marriage is the father of any child born within 10 months of a marriage. But current laws don’t offer any protective rights to a non-biological same-sex parent in a married relationship where artificial insemination is used.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Scott Bales noted that the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling states that same-sex couples are entitled to civil marriage “on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.”