Earlier this week, the Arizona Supreme Court provided legal safeguards for non-biological parents, welcome news for many LGBTQ parents who are not genetically related to their children.
The case McLaughlin v. McLaughlin involved a married lesbian couple, Suzan McLaughlin and Kimberly McLaughlin, the latter of who conceived a child with the held of an anonymous sperm donor during their marriage. After the couple split in 2013, Kimberly attempted to sever all contact between her ex-wife and their child. Suzan, with the backing of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), sued to be recognized as a legal parent of her child. This week' ruling, along with two lower court decisions, found in favor of Suzan's parental rights.
"I am relieved and overjoyed that the court recognized me as my son's mother," Suzan said in a statement released by the NCLR. "All I have ever wanted is to be there for him like any mother would."
In finding in favor of non-biological parents in same-sex marriages, the Arizona Supreme Court relied on the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which as argued by the NCLR essentially requires states to treat same-sex married partners no differently than their heterosexual counterparts, whose parenting rights are assumed upon marriage. As the court explained in its ruling: "It would be inconsistent with Obergefell to conclude that same-sex couples can legally marry but states can then deny them the same benefits of marriage afforded opposite-sex couples."
The Arizona Supreme Court also relied on the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Pavan v. Smith, which further emphasized that married same-sex parents should be treated no differently. For more on this case, read the NCLR's statement on the decision.