(CN) – Homosexual couples in Oregon who have children through artificial insemination have the same parental rights as heterosexuals, a state appeals court ruled.
A state law that makes the husband of a woman who gives birth to a child conceived through donor insemination the child’s father must be extended to same-sex couples to remain constitutional, the court found.
“There appears to be no reason for permitting heterosexual couples to bypass adoption proceedings by conceiving a child through mutually consensual artificial insemination, but not permitting same-sex couples to do so,” Judge Ellen Rosenblum wrote in a unanimous three-judge decision.
“Extending the statute’s coverage to include the children of mothers in same-sex relationships advances the legislative objective by providing the same protection for a greater number of children.”
A lesbian couple who had two children through artificial insemination during a 10-year relationship split up and the birth mother, defendant Sarah Kemp, refused to allow her former partner, Sondra Shineovich, contact with the children.
Shineovich sued in 2007, arguing that two Oregon statutes gave her the same parental rights as a married man.
A trial court dismissed and Shineovich appealed, seeking, Rosenblum wrote, to “have the privileges afforded to married men extended to similarly situated lesbian women.”
While the court found that the state law automatically making a man who is not sterile and is cohabiting with the mother of a child that child’s father, even if the couple’s marriage is void, did not apply to same-sex couples because it relates only to biological paternity, a similar statute on children conceived through artificial insemination does.
The court ruled that if the statute were not extended to same-sex couples, it would violate the state constitution.
“Because same-sex couples may not marry in Oregon, that privilege is not available to the same-sex domestic partner of a woman who gives birth to a child conceived by artificial insemination, where the partner consented to the procedure with the intent of being the child’s second parent,” Rosenblum wrote.
Mark Johnson argued the case for Shineovich and Murphy McGrew represented Kemp. The American Civil Liberties Union and Basic Rights Oregon filed briefs.