The justices have shown interest in an Indiana case that could begin the rollback of marriage equality and Strip equal parenting rights from Same-Sex Parents
On Monday, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill asked the Supreme Court to strip equal parenting rights from same-sex parents. He did so at the request of the court, which is considering taking up his case. Hill implored the new conservative majority to rule that states may deny married same-sex couples the right to be recognized as parents of their own children. The case gives SCOTUS an opportunity to start chipping away at Obergefell v. Hodges by allowing states to withhold marital privileges from same-sex spouses. If the majority wants to begin eroding Obergefell, they will probably start here.
What’s strange about this case, Box v. Henderson, is that it poses a question the Supreme Court has already answered—twice. The plaintiffs are eight married lesbian couples in Indiana who used a sperm donor to conceive. When a married opposite-sex couple uses a sperm donor, Indiana recognizes the birth mother’s husband as the child’s parent. When a married same-sex couple does the same thing, however, the state refuses to list the birth mother’s wife as the child’s parent. In both instances, the second parent has no biological connection to the child; Indiana’s decision to extend parental rights to the nonbiological husbands of birth mothers, but not the wives of birth mothers, is sheer discrimination.
On two different occasions, the Supreme Court prohibited this kind of mistreatment. In Obergefell v. Hodges, the court held that the Constitution entitles same-sex couples to marriage “on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.” Most courts understood that this requirement compelled them to provide the equal benefits to married same-sex parents. In Florida, for instance, a federal judge held that Obergefell “plainly requires” the state to list married lesbian couples as the parents of a child conceived with a sperm donor, since the state grants this right to married opposite-sex couples. (Florida’s Republican attorney general settled the case in apparent recognition that an appeal would be doomed.) When the Arkansas Supreme Court kept a birth mother’s wife off their child’s birth certificate, SCOTUS shot it down without even bothering to hear oral arguments. In 2017’s Pavan v. Smith, the court unequivocally ruled that states must issue birth certificates on equal terms to same-sex and opposite-sex couples. It announced a rule: If a state lists a birth mother’s husband as a parent despite his lack of biological connection, it must list a birth mother’s wife as a parent, too.
Slate.com by Mark Joseph Stern, November 24, 2020
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Source: Time for Families