Fla. Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Depriving Lesbian Mothers Of Parental Rights

Nov 7, 2013

Credit Danny Hammontree

The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a lesbian biological mother has parental rights as long as she raises her child. Family lawyers across the nation were watching the same-sex custody dispute that pitted a child’s birth mother against her biological mother.

The child had been conceived by implanting one woman’s eggs in the other’s womb. Both women raised their daughter for several years before separating, and the birth mother took the child to Australia.

There was already a legal precedent showing a father has rights as long as he raises his child. Citing the Equal Protection Clause in the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, the high court ruled 4-to-3 that biological mothers should have equal rights with men.

The court also struck down a Florida law that says egg donors relinquish parental rights to the "commissioning couple"--defined in the law as one man and one woman-- during assisted reproduction. Writing for the majority, Justice Barbara Pariente says that law is unconstitutional because it denied lesbians the parental rights that unmarried heterosexual couples enjoy.