NCLR Wins Arizona Same-Sex Parental Rights Case


AZ Supreme Court says same-sex spouse is a legal parent   

SAN FRANCISCO—Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) won the Arizona Supreme Court case, McLaughlin v. McLaughlin, which ruled that a woman was the legal parent of the child she and her same-sex spouse conceived through assisted reproduction during their marriage. 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.”

“I am relieved and overjoyed that the court recognized me as my son’s mother,” said Suzan McLaughlin. “All I have ever wanted is to be there for him like any mother would.”

“We are pleased that the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled—consistent with Obergefell—that same-sex parents and their children have the same rights as other families,” said Cathy Sakimura, Family Law Director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “The U.S. Supreme Court has twice explained that the U.S. Constitution requires states to provide the exact same rights to same-sex spouses and different-sex spouses.”

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. Additionally, Professor Barbara Atwood and the Child and Family Law Clinic at the University of Arizona Rogers College of Law, as well as 23 Arizona family law attorneys, filed amicus briefs in support of 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. The Arizona Supreme Court’s decision in McLaughlin follows this settled law and should be instructive to other states across the country considering this issue.

For more information on NCLR’s June 2017 U.S. Supreme Court victory in Pavan v. Smithclick here.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. 

[From a News Release]

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