Citing that a lesbian couple were involved in a long-term relationship when they “agreed to jointly conceive and raise a child together as equal parental partners,” the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the partner who donated her egg to her partner has constitutionally protected parental rights. The couple — identified only as D.M.T., who carried the child and was therefore the birth mother, and T.M.H., who donated the egg and was therefore a biological mother — had a daughter in 2004. Although they split up when the child was nearly 1 1/2 years old, they continued to co-parent their daughter until D.M.T. left the state, denying her former partner further parental rights.
Writing for the majority, Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara J. Pariente opened with this quote from the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Lehr v. Robertson: “The intangible fibers that connect parent and child have infinite variety. They are woven throughout the fabric of our society, providing it with strength, beauty, and flexibility. It is self-evident that they are sufficiently vital to merit constitutional protection in appropriate cases.”
Several points to note include:
- Although same-sex marriage is not recognized in Florida, the Court found that the biological mother has the same rights afforded an unwed biological father, because she had taken on child-rearing responsibilities.
- The best interests of the child are still paramount and issues regarding child support and time-sharing apply.
Does this ruling, therefore, apply to anonymous sperm or egg donors? No, because the ruling is largely based on the fact that both women intended to be parents to their daughter and raise her as a couple. Lesbian partners who are considering having and raising a child may wish to consult an attorney familiar with same-sex parenting issues to ensure they understand their rights as well as their responsibilities.
Attorney Shane Herbert also contributed to this blog post.