Federal Court to Hear Arguments Brought by Same-Sex Mothers Seeking Recognition of Parentage Rights

Affiliate: ACLU of Utah
July 15, 2015 11:15 am

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SALT LAKE CITY— A Utah federal court will hear arguments today in a case filed on behalf of a married same-sex couple seeking recognition as legal parents of their child. The ACLU of Utah and the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in April 2015 to force the State Office of Vital Records and Statistics to recognize plaintiffs Angie and Kami Roe as parents to their daughter, Lucy.

Under Utah’s assisted reproduction statute, the husband of a woman who conceives with donated sperm is automatically recognized as the child’s parent. But because Angie is Kami’s wife instead of her husband, the State Office of Vital Records and Statistics refuses to recognize Angie as Lucy’s parent.

The office told the couple that they must go through an expensive, invasive, and time-consuming step-parent adoption process in order for them to provide Lucy the protection of two legal parents.

“Kami and I should not have to go through a time-consuming legal procedure to give our daughter the protection of having two legal parents,” said plaintiff Angie Roe. “All we are asking is to be treated the same way that other married couples are treated under state law.”

Plaintiffs argue that the Office’s refusal to recognize female spouses as parents under Utah’s assisted reproduction statue violates their right to equal protection. Today’s hearing follows a ruling issued by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 2015 holding that state bans on marriage for same-sex couples violate the due process and equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

“It is clear that the highest court in the land recognizes that all the rights that flow from marriage must be granted to couples like Angie and Kami,” said Joshua Block, senior staff attorney for the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and HIV Project. “Equal application of Utah’s statute will give this family the protection and recognition due to them.”

Plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction in the case, asking the court to order the Office of Vital Records and Statistics to recognize Angie as Lucy’s parent while the case is being argued further in order to prevent further harms to be caused to the family.

The preliminary injunction motion will be argued at 1 p.m. MDT, July 15, 2015 before Judge Benson in Utah’s Federal courthouse.

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