On Tuesday, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled a divorced lesbian couple has constitutionally guaranteed equal parental rights. The Court found that are also privy to the “same constellation of benefits” as straight couples.
Chief Justice Scott Bales wrote for the majority, “For these reasons, we extend” parental rights “to same-sex spouses such as Suzan.”
By extending parental rights “to same-sex spouses, we ensure all children, and not just children born to opposite-sex spouses, have financial and emotional support from two parents and strong family units,” wrote Bales.
The couple at the center of the case Suzan McLaughlin and Kimberly McLaughlin were married in California in 2008. Initially Kimberly tried to have a child, but was unsuccessful. Suzan, was able to become pregnant and in 2011 gave birth to a baby boy.
While the couple had a co-parenting agreement, they eventually divorced, and Kimberly sought to deny Suzan certain parental rights.
A lower state court granted Suzan parental rights, but the decision was overturned on appeal. Suzan continued her fight.
“If a woman in an opposite-sex marriage conceives a child through an anonymous sperm donor, her husband will be presumed the father even though he is not biologically related to the child. It would be inconsistent with Obergefell,” wrote Bales referring to Obergefell v. Hodges in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed same-sex couples under the 14th Amendment, “to conclude that same-sex couples can legally marry but states can then deny them the same benefits of marriage afforded opposite-sex couples.”