Utah Federal Court Rules Same-Sex Mothers’ Parentage Rights Must Be Recognized
SALT LAKE CITY— A Utah federal court ruled Wednesday that the State Office of Vital Records and Statistics must recognize a same-sex married couple as legal parents of their child. The case was argued before U.S. District Judge Dee Benson whose ruling holds that the state must apply Utah’s assisted reproduction parentage statute equally to same and different-sex spouses.
“The court’s decision makes clear that Utah must provide the same benefits, protections, and obligations to married same-sex couples that it provides to every other married couple,” said Joshua Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and HIV Project. “Utah’s assisted conception statutes were passed to ensure that children have the protection of two legal parents from the moment they are born. The state could not identify any reason at all to explain why it should be able to deny that same protection to Angie and Kami’s family.”
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Utah brought Roe v. Patton on behalf of plaintiffs Angie and Kami Roe, arguing that the office’s refusal to recognize female spouses as parents violates their right to equal protection.
“We are overjoyed by the ruling. We are the same parents walking out of the courtroom today as we were walking in, but to no longer be discriminated against and to be recognized as my daughter’s mother by the state of Utah, that’s an amazing feeling,” said plaintiff Angie Roe.
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 rather than treat Angie and Kami the same as all other married couples under the law, the Office of Vital Records and Statistics required the couple to go through an expensive and time-consuming step-parent adoption process.
Judge Benson’s ruling grants plaintiffs the requested preliminary injunction so that Angie will be able to immediately claim parentage rights to her daughter, Lucy. This ruling affirms the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic decision last month in Obergefell v. Hodges that all equal protection rights stemming from marriage must be granted to same-sex couples.
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