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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 22, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 38
Arizona Supreme Court affirms equal rights for same-sex parents
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Arizona Supreme Court affirms equal rights for same-sex parents

Obergefell supersedes state law, court says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that the US Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges - the ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide - supersedes state law and requires the state to recognize the rights of same-sex parents.

The Arizona ruling came in the case of Suzan McLaughlin and Kimberly McLaughlin, a Lesbian couple who married in 2011 and had a child using an anonymous sperm donor.

The couple separated in 2013, and Kimberly, the biological mother, stopped allowing Suzan to see their child. Suzan then filed a legal action to be recognized as a parent.

Both the trial court and the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that Suzan should indeed be recognized as a legal parent to her child, just as she would have had the couple been an opposite-sex couple. The Arizona Supreme Court upheld the lower decisions.

'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 said in its decision.

In June 2017, the US Supreme Court ruled in Pavan v. Smith that Obergefell required states to treat married same-sex parents and married opposite-sex parents equally.

As in the Pavan case, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) represented the plaintiff, Suzan McLaughlin, in her suit.

NCLR attorney Claudia Work also got substantial support from Arizona legal experts. Prof. Barbara Atwood and the Child and Family Law Clinic at the University of Arizona Rogers College of Law, as well as 23 Arizona family law attorneys, the ACLU, and the ACLU of Arizona, filed amicus briefs in support of Suzan.

'The Arizona Supreme Court's decision in McLaughlin follows this [Obergefell and Pavan] settled law and should be instructive to other states across the country considering this issue,' the NCLR concluded in a September 20 statement.

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