You all know I’ve been following that trial in Michigan where a lesbian family brought a challenge to MI’s restriction on who can adopt. The trial itself ended yesterday and now the matter rests with the judge. An opinion is expected in a couple of weeks.
To recap briefly, MI only permits married couples to adopt jointly–which gives the adopted child two legal parents. The plaintiffs in Michigan are two women (April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse) who are a longtime lesbian couple. One woman has adopted two special needs children from foster care, the other has adopted one special needs child from foster care. Each of the three children has one legal mother (and one non-legal mother–by which I mean a social/psychological mother who has no legal status.)
DeBoer and Rowse originally challenged the adoption restriction but the judge suggested broadening the challenge to include MI’s restriction on who can marry. Continue reading
As you will know from earlier posts, there is a very interesting trial proceeding in Michigan. It’s a challenge to laws that prohibit a same-sex couple from marrying and therefore from jointly adopting. The plaintiffs are a lesbian couple each of whom has adopted children out of foster care. Though they have been together for quite some time, the two women cannot adopt each other’s children. This puts the children at risk in various ways–the non-adoptive mother is not a legal parent of the child.
What’s really interesting is that the trial judge is hearing live testimony from a series of expert witnesses of various sorts. You can follow along via twitter coverage or blog coverage or the local (Detroit) paper. I’m sure there will be other coverage, too, but how much can one take in.
So what to think? Continue reading
I’m stepping out of discussions about the marital presumption for a moment to raise what is really a much broader issue. Generally the choices people make when advocating for any particular rule in family law (and in law generally, I would guess) are driven by some goal that they are trying to achieve.
For instance, in family law many people advocate for particular legal arrangments because they care about the well-being of children. Indeed, it is probably fair to say that the well-being of children is the single most broadly agreed upon goal of family law. There are other goals you an advance of course—interests of and/or fairness to adults, say. But the consideration of children—for a whole range of reasons–is often centrally placed in the debate.
Now the fact that many people agree on the centrality of the well-being of children does not mean that people agree on what family law should be. Continue reading
I have some hesitation about returning to the general topic of birth certificates as I know many people get quite wrought about it. But there’s a bunch of different stories out there on the topic so I’ll have a go on it. However, I want to try to set the stage first.
Birth certificates—at least in the US–are rather peculiar documents. Some of what is on them at least looks like a historical record. So for example, birth certificates routinely list the time of birth. That would seem to be in the nature of a historical record–a formal noting of a particular thing happening at a specific time and place. (Place is also in that category.)
But then there are some other things on birth certificates that, though they look like the stuff of historical records, aren’t. One–and the one that has been discussed the most extensively here–is “parents”–or as it sometimes appears “mother” and “father.” US birth certificates do not necessarily list the name of the woman who gave birth–which it seems to me would be the most obvious historical fact they might reflect. Continue reading
In the category of “this just in”–the Supreme Court of Idaho published an opinion today in which it concludes that Idaho law permits a lesbian to complete a second-parent adoption. This warrants at least a short post. I’ve written about second-parent adoptions in the past, (and very recently about NY decision denying a second-parent adoption) but let me do a quick recap:
Second-parent adoptions are of particular importance to lesbian families. If a lesbian couple decides to raise kids, one way to do that is for one woman to give birth to the child. By virtue of giving birth, she will be deemed a legal parent of the child. Continue reading
I’m in the midst of trying to develop a theory of parenthood that solves my “only one parent at birth” problem. (Check out yesterday’s post if this makes no sense to you.) But I need to interrupt myself to talk about this story from today’s NYT. It’s not totally off-point because it concerns the marital presumption of legal parenthood, which has been a topic of conversation in the comments recently.
So here are the basic facts of the NY case. A lesbian couple (Amalia C and Melissa M) decided they wanted to have a child. Melissa gave birth to a child. Amalia sought to complete a second-parent adoption–a process that would make her the child’s second parent without disturbing Melissa’s rights. This is a well-recognized process in NY.
But, according to the judge considering the adoption, there was a problem: The two women had gotten married in 2011 and NY recognized this marriage. Continue reading
There’s a recent story from an Australian newspaper that raises (for me anyway) some interesting questions. There’s a slightly expanded version of the story here, too. But still, I feel like the facts are pretty threadbare. Some of these are simply questions about Australian law–which maybe someone from Australia could answer. But there are also larger issues here.
A lesbian couple wanted to have a child. An identified man provided sperm so that they could do that. I cannot quite tell whether he was someone they knew in passing or someone they knew well or someone they didn’t know at all. Continue reading
This post grows out of an exchange in the comments on an earlier post. Ki Sarita (not sure about how I should capitalize that) and I have been having an exchange about whether I (or perhaps more narrowly, my opinions?) are anti-male. In fairness, I think Ki Sarita’s views here are based on far more than that one posting as she is a long-time reader/commenter here. But I’m going to focus on that post (which is about a case involving a doctrine called “de facto parentage”) in order to make a few points. I realize they may not address the full scope of Ki Sarita’s argument but I want to make what is perhaps a subsidiary point. I’m also going to have to cover some background before getting to my point, so some of you may wish to skim ahead.
The idea in de facto parentage is that the law should recognize and protect existing psychological/social parent/child relationships. De facto parentage is probably most important where a legal parent co-parents with someone who, for whatever reasons, doesn’t gain status as a legal parent in any other way. Continue reading
I wanted to add a couple more notes about the Florida opinion I wrote about a couple of days ago. And while I’m doing that, there’s a Nevada opinion from just a little while back (October 3) that I wanted to tie in here. It’s virtually a mirror image of the FL case.
First, two more points about the FL case–what I think of as the good and the bad, really. And these are taking a step away to get a little bit of a longer view.
The good: From what I can tell (and I do not have any access to the facts) the court decided this case in a way that I think reflects the reality of the family life that gave rise to it. There are many indications that both women functioned as parents to this child during the first two years of the child’s life. Continue reading
I’m interrupting myself (though I really want to get back to “social infertility” and what to think about it) because there is an interesting and important new case out of Florida. You can read the opinion (though it is long) and I’m sure in time there will be press, too. (I wrote about this case when it was decided by the lower court and you might want to read that, too. )
I want to offer some initial thoughts here, though think it quite possible I will find that I need to revise them as I think further. The case covers a lot of ground and might have some broad implications–or at least suggest some broader arguments.
The facts are pretty simple. DMT and TMH were lesbians in a long-term committed relationship. They wanted to raise a child together. TMH provided an egg. It was fertilized in vitro and the resulting pre-embryo was transferred to DMT’s uterus, which means DMT was pregnant with/gave birth to the child. Continue reading