A few weeks ago we discussed the two cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court dealing with the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. But as millions of Americans await the decision, many people wonder how the Court will interpret the issue of same-sex parenting since the Court has never heard a case dealing with a gay parent.
Unmarried parents may have a different experience with child custody matters than married parents. Although California advocates that the parent-child relationship should not be hindered by the lack of a marriage, parents who were never married still miss that additional legal recognition of parentage.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided to take up the issue of gay marriage, and will review the constitutionality of both the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California's ban on gay marriage in the current term. DOMA defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. DOMA affects federal benefits, including taxes. And even though nine states and the District of Columbia now have legal gay marriage, under DOMA, same-sex couples still aren't allowed to file a joint federal tax return.
California same-sex couples may be interested to read about a recent ruling from a judge in Iowa. Although Californian's may have different concerns regarding unmarried parenting than same-sex couples in states that have legalized gay marriage, all monumental decisions regarding this issue may factor into how California proceeds. Iowa allows same-sex couples can legally marry but until recently, the legal recognition of the relationship didn't necessarily eliminate child custody issues.
The recent election wasn't all about the President. For many, the election meant changes to the state's laws regarding same-sex marriage. The election results could be considered a success on the gay marriage front because popular vote approval in some states may mean other states, like California start to follow suit. It may also impact the outcome of the Supreme Court decision on the issue. The Supreme Court is expected to address same-sex marriage in the upcoming term.
Unmarried parents in California face different challenges than married parents when it comes to family law issues. The law currently acknowledges that a strong, meaningful parent-child relationship can develop even though parents aren't married. But particular difficulties arise when there is no legal relationship between the parents, especially when it comes to custody rights and child support.
A California bill addressing parenting issues goes to the state senate after it recently passed the California State Assembly. A previous post discussed the "multiple parents" bill before it reached a vote, but, as the bill now moves toward the senate, it is one step close to becoming law.
California continues to be at the center of the same-sex marriage debate. The latest movement may impact how the state determines child custody rights. A new law under consideration provides that children could have more than two legal parents. The bill, SB1476, incorporates all family types and applies equally to homosexual and heterosexual couples as well as to men and women.
It's what same-sex parents in California and across the country have been fighting for: recognition as legal parents. A nearby state's Supreme Court ruling on June 1 now gives legal parental rights to a former same-sex partner of an adoptive mother. This ruling allows the former partner to seek child custody.
Same-sex parents and their children traveled to Washington, D.C. last week to lobby Congress for equal rights. The Family Equality Council organized the lobbying day, the goal being to ask lawmakers to make it easier for same-sex couples to raise a family.