Legalized Gay Marriage Doesn’t Help Would-Be Mom

     (CN) — The Supreme Court’s landmark marriage-equality ruling cannot help a woman seeking custody of her ex-girlfriend’s child characterize their relationship as a marriage, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled.
     Michelle Lake and Kerri Putnam dated from 2001 to 2014. Putnam had a child during their relationship via artificial insemination.
     After the breakup, Putnam rebuffed Lake’s attempts to spend time with the child, so Lake filed suit.
     Though Putnam argued that Lake lacked standing to seek parenting time, the Washtenaw Circuit court disagreed and awarded Lake time with the child.
     The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed last week, saying Lake is “incorrect” that she satisfies the state’s equitable-parent doctrine.
     The doctrine would apply to a nonbiological father who has a relationship with the child, wants parental rights and is willing to pay child support.
     Lake claimed to satisfy all requirements under the equitable-parent doctrine, but the court found “she ignores one crucial, and dispositive, requirement for the equitable-parent doctrine to apply — the child must be born in wedlock.” (Emphasis in original).
     Awarding Lake relief is not a natural development from the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage-equality decision, the three-judge appellate panel concluded.
     “While we acknowledge that the issue presented in this case is complex, we simply do not believe it is within courts’ discretion to retroactively transform an unmarried couples’ past relationship into marriage for custody proceedings in light of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v Hodges, at the request of one party,” Judge Colleen O’Brien wrote for the court. “Stated differently, it is, in our view, improper for a court to impose, several years later, a marriage upon a same-sex unmarried couple simply because one party desires that we do so.”
     O’Brien called it “undisputed” that Lake is not a parent to the child at issue and thus lacks standing to create a custody dispute.
     The July 5 ruling likewise tosses Lake’s equal-protection and due-process constitutional claims.
     “Again, had she been married to the child’s biological parent, regardless of whether the biological parent was male or female, the outcome of this appeal would have been different,” O’Brien wrote.

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