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High court declines Arizona same-sex parental rights case

February 26, 2018

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona Supreme Court ruling that entitles a Tucson woman in a same-sex marriage to the same parental rights a man would receive will stand after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case Monday.

Suzan McLaughlin said the case is a great victory for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

“The decision made today was the right one,” McLaughlin said in a statement. “No parent and child should have to go through this kind of situation. I am so grateful and thrilled that my son and I can now legally share in each other’s lives.”

Arizona law assumes the man in a marriage is the father of any child born within 10 months of the marriage. But it doesn’t establish any rights in artificial insemination cases for the non-biological parent of the same sex.

Kimberly McLaughlin had a son through artificial insemination while married to Suzan in 2011. The couple later split, although a divorce hasn’t been finalized.

Suzan has temporary visitation with the now 6-year-old boy but couldn’t finalize custody agreements until the case ran its course, said the National Center for Lesbian Rights, one of the groups who represented her. She lives in Tucson and Kimberly in Lake Havasu City.

An attorney for Kimberly didn’t respond to a phone message left Monday.

Details of how to define parenting and a raft of other issues have been working their way through state courts since the nation’s high court legalized gay marriage in 2015.

Arizona Chief Justice Scott Bales suggested that state laws need to be written to avoid case-by-case legislation.

Artificial insemination cases raise difficult issues. Several states allow women or men who consent to another woman’s insemination to be legally considered the child’s parent, even if the couple is not married, according to the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

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