COMMENTARY

Laws need to catch up to reality of same-sex parents

Updated: 2013-01-10T13:43:49Z

By MARY SANCHEZ

The Kansas City Star

All children should be so lucky to have a parent willing to legally claim them as their personal responsibility, even if that child is not theirs biologically.

Yes, some people do this. Gay people do this. They jump through this hoop to declare their love and commitment for children, when they can find lawyers and a judge who is willing.

It’s called second-parent adoption. A few judges in the metropolitan area are friendly to the issue and are willing to approve the process for gay couples.

It’s what should have happened in the case of the Topeka man being sued by the state of Kansas for child support.

William Marotta answered a Craigslist ad to be a sperm donor for a lesbian couple. A now 3-year-old girl is the result. The couple broke up, financial troubles occurred, and one woman sought state assistance for the child. Now Kansas is going after Marotta for reimbursement of about $6,000. A hearing this week was postponed until April.

The story has made Kansas a laughingstock nationally. But much of the nation is just as backward.

In most states, the problem for gay couples who desire children is how to stay within the law when the law doesn’t want to acknowledge their existence.

It’s ridiculous. The religious piety behind these views — the whole Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve bit — blindly sidesteps reality.

There are about 2 million children being raised by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender parents in the U.S. And those children often fall into precarious positions because of the difficulty gay people have in establishing legal connections to them.

A child’s health insurance from a nonbiological parent can be an issue. Gaining survivor’s and disability benefits can be impossible.

The contract that Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner drew up with Marotta might as well have been written on a napkin. It’s not binding in Kansas.

Kansas is falling back on a statute that recognizes only artificial inseminations by licensed physicians. If that had occurred, Marotta’s obligations to the child would have been legally severed. A second-parent adoption by the nonbiological mother could have helped establish her role as a parent.

Attitudes are changing. A July 2012 Pew Research survey found 52 percent of people polled believe gays and lesbians should be able to adopt.

It’s time the nation’s laws caught up.

As this case illustrates, one-night stands or men who drop specimens into plastic cups often have more legal rights to the children they produce than a gay person who has loved and cherished the child daily.

To reach Mary Sanchez, call 816-234-4752 or send email to msanchez@kcstar.com.

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