I’ve been following a case brought by Christa Dias for a long time now. Dias was a computer science teacher in a Catholic school in Cleveland. She was single and used assisted insemination to become pregnant. She was fired and sued.
The archdiocese–defendant in the case–asserted that she was fired because violated Catholic teachings and she had agreed to abide by those teachings when she was hired. (It’s agreed that using AI violates those teachings.) But Dias made two claims–first, that the firing amounted to pregnancy discrimination and second, that the diocese didn’t fire men who used AI, but only women who did so. Continue reading
This essay will, I think, be in print in tomorrow’s NYT but it’s been on the web for a bit. It’s from Modern Love–a Sunday column that often deals with complexities of modern family life. In the essay Lisa Schlesinger writes about her experience as the wife of a man who provided sperm to a lesbian couple who were friends of theirs. The husband, Ben, was to be a known sperm donor, of course. The essay shows us some of the complexity of that role and the web of relationships that are affected.
There are three different aspects of the story that I find striking. First is the chain of consultation. When Maggie (one of the lesbians) asked Ben (the husband) his response was to ask Lisa, his wife. Lisa and Ben have three children–a daughter genetically related to both of them and two sons who are from a relationship Lisa had before Ben and thus are genetically unrelated to them. The sons are in the 20s, the daughter 14. Continue reading
“FAFSA” is one of those words (if it is a word) that strikes fear into the hearts of those who know what it is. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and, as the name suggests, it is the form families have to fill out to get federal aid for their kids. And the reason it strikes fear is that it is a long and complicated process (though they do say that they keep trying to improve it.)
Now you may be wondering why this has anything to do with my blog. Bear with me.
One of the critical pieces of information FAFSA requires, of course, is the financial position of the student’s parents. It certainly stands to reason that this is the sort of thing you’d want to know in determining whether someone was eligible for federal student aid, right? But you all know that figuring out who counts as a ”parent” means isn’t always easy. Continue reading
I know I’ve been worse than spotty here recently and that is at least in part because it is the very end of our semester. Things do tend to get hectic. (And to add to the degree of difficulty factor, I’ve been doing quite a bit of travelling.)
But even as I struggle through this busy time, I have to pass along some quick thoughts about this story. It’s the resolution of a case I wrote about all the way back when the academic year was beginning–and so as the year ends, it seems remarkable that the case, too, has drawn to a close.
You can and should read the earlier post for the details important at that time, but here’s the bottom line now. A man originally agreed to be a sperm donor for a lesbian couple. As a part of the deal he said he’d have nothing to do with the child. Continue reading
Here’s one timely illustration of the marriage/children link being invoked in support of access to marriage. (This ties back to a post from yesterday.) The American Academy of Pediatrics (apparently the major national organization of pediatricians) has endorsed access to marriage for same-sex couples. The rational for this is all about what is good for children, which is, of course, the primary concern of pediatricians.
Children thrive in families that are stable and that provide permanent security, and the way we do that is through marriage,” said Benjamin Siegel, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, and a co-author of the policy statement. “The AAP believes there should be equal opportunity for every couple to access the economic stability and federal
supports provided to married couples to raise children.”
(This is from the press release on the AAP website.)
It’s clearly crucial to this argument that significant numbers of lesbian and gay couples are already raising children. You can see how critical that premise is by looking at the discussion in Europe.
This is in the nature of a follow up to a series of posts about a recent Kansas Supreme Court decision (Goudschaal v. Frazier)recognizing a lesbian co-mother as a legal parent. The discussion in this post most directly relates to the last of the posts about the new Kansas case.
As I discuss there, the new opinion is an interesting contrast to a pending Kansas case that has garnered a lot of press and also been discussed here. In that pending case the state is seeking child support from William Marotta. Marotta agreed to be a sperm donor for a lesbian couple, Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner. As was the case in Goudschaal, the parties put their agreement in wriring so there is no debate as to the terms. And unlike the parties in Goudschaal, Marotta, Bauer and Schreiner all lived by the terms of their agreement. Continue reading
I’m going to have to play a bit of catch-up here. What with one thing and another there are several items from the last month or so that I meant to talk about but didn’t. Here’s one–or really, two that are at least thematically related. Both concern adoption rights of same sex couples and both are grounded in commitments to equal treatment.
First, in this opinion the European Court of Human Rights struck down an Austrian law that prevented the partner of a lesbian from adopting her partner’s child. The problem here was that Austria treated the lesbian couple differently than it would have treated a heterosexual couple. If the woman had a male partner he would have been allowed to adopt the child. It was only because her partner was female that the adoption was prohibited. Continue reading
I’ve been writing a lot about a recent Kansas Supreme Court opinion–this makes my fourth post. (The string starts here.) It’s actually the third time I’ve written about Kansas law about parenthood of people who used third-party sperm and I think it is interesting to put the cases together. I’ll work backwards just because the most recent case might be the one you have most clearly in mind.
The new one–the one I’ve been writing about–is Frazier v. Goudschaal. The key thing I want to take from it is that if two women have a written parentage agreement AND there is “not a biological father to displace” (page 27) AND there is subsequent behavior consistent with the written parentage agreement, then both women may well claim to be legal parents. Continue reading
This is my third post on a recent (and important) decision from the Kansas Supreme Court. I suggest you read the first two posts before this one so you know what’s going on. I’m trying to minimize repetition.
The case at issue is one of those intra-lesbian mother disputes that has appeared on the blog with unfortunate frequency. Two women–a couple–decide to start a family and have children together. Because of the way law is structured, one woman has an easy path to legal parenthood–she is both genetically related to the child and gives birth. In the problem cases, the women split up and the one with clear legal rights tries to deny the legal status of the other woman. It’s important to distinguish these from the broader category of cases where the women split up and disagree about custody. Legal parents disagree about custody and go to court to litigate it somewhat frequently. What distinguishes the cases I’m thinking of is that one woman asserts that the other is not a legal parent.
Anyway, I’ve already discussed the way in which the court found parental rights in the second woman. Continue reading
I’m going to look more closely at the opinion issued in Kansas yesterday. For background you can start with yesterday’s rather hurried post. If you want to follow along with the actual opinion, I’m going to really focus on the materials after page 18. Up until that point, the court has basically stated the facts (which are in yesterday’s post) and summarized the various positions taken by parties and amicus.
From a totally lawyer/geek point of view, it’s noteworthy that the first discussion of the substantial issues–what does it mean to be a legal parent? Who can claim to be one in Kansas?–arises in the context of jurisdiction. It’s actually not uncommon. Goudschaal essentially asserts that she is a parent (by virtue of genetic connection/biology) and that there are only two paths to parenthood in Kansas–that one and adoption. Since Frazier claims neither, Goudschaal asserts she (Frazier) doesn’t even have a right to ask a court to decide whether or not Frazier is a parent. In essence, Goudschaal asserts that the court has no authority to even consider the question.
This may seem an obscure point to focus on, but I think it tells us something about the potential force of the argument Goudschaal is attempting to invoke. Continue reading