SCOTUS declines to take up Tucson same-sex parenthood case

TUCSON, Ariz. - A Tucson woman is optimistic after winning a major victory in a years-long custody fight for her young son. 

A central part of the case is the sexuality of the parties involved since the boy was born to a lesbian couple.

“I know I’m my son's other parent,” said Suzan McLaughlin.

The United States Supreme court recently decided not to hear an appeal to her on-going divorce and child custody case, which began five years ago.

In 2008, Suzan married her partner in California before gay marriage was legal in every state. The two decided to have a child and in 2010 used an anonymous sperm donor and one of her spouse's eggs during an artificial insemination procedure.

In 2011, Suzan’s spouse delivered a baby boy, in Tucson.

“We even did a parenting agreement, and in the agreement, it said that if we were to split up that [her spouse] would always see me and [the child’s] another parent,” Suzan said.

She says the two also executed mirror wills which acknowledge each other as the child’s parent.

In 2013, Suzan filed for divorce.

While fighting for custody, her partner's attorney, Keith Berkshire, argued to the Arizona Supreme Court current law doesn't establish any rights for non-biological parent of a child conceived through artificial insemination in the instance of a same-sex marriage. 

The Arizona Supreme Court disagreed, and Berkshire appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Suzan considered it was undermining the legitimacy of gay couples with children.

“I was shocked because as a couple we both belonged to the HRC, Human Rights Campaign, we were very big advocates for LGBT rights,” she said.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case, meaning the ruling of the state court stands.

Berkshire told KGUN9 neither he nor his client, Kimberly McLaughlin, were available for an interview.  He wrote in an email, "As for the ruling, the Supreme Court ruling controls, and there is not much to discuss.  We pursued all available options, which are now over."

The divorce and custody case will proceed in a Pima County court.

Suzan’s son, now six-years-old, currently lives in another part of the state with his other parent. She hopes she will be able to see him more often.

“Not miss a day,” she said. “Watch him grow into a wonderful man.”

 

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