Four same-sex couples have sued the state of Tennessee regarding a new law that they allege denies them parental rights. The same-sex, female couples are married. Each couple says it expects to have a baby this year. The women are concerned that the new law, which states that undefined words Tennessee family law shall have their “natural and ordinary meanings,” will undermine their parental status.
According to certain advocates of the law, like Republican state lawmaker Andrew Farmer, the legislation was not intended to have any effect on same-sex marriages or gender issues. Opponents of the legislation, however, believe that the words “wife” and “husband,” “mother” and “father,” and other such words could now be interpreted by the courts in a way that denies same-sex spouses their marriage-given rights to being a parent.
Only days prior to the “natural and ordinary meanings” legislation being signed into law, a judge in Knox County granted parental rights to the female “husband” of a woman who had given birth to a child via artificial insemination. This ruling was made in accordance with the current rules, which stated that a “child born to a married woman as a result of artificial insemination, with consent of the married woman’s husband, is deemed to be the legitimate child of the husband and wife.” Whether a future ruling of this nature will be allowed after the new law goes into effect will remain to be seen.
Many questions remain over parental rights in same-sex marriages. As such, Tennessee same-sex couples may wish to consult with a family law attorney before their expected babies are due to be born.
Source: bpnew.net, “Tenn. sued over spousal definitions,” May 22, 2017