Current Affairs

Lesbian mother granted ‘husband’s rights’ in landmark case

Meka Beresford May 13, 2017
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A lesbian woman has been granted “husband’s rights” in a land mark case heard in Tennessee.

Erica and Sabrina Witt, from Knoxville, were married and had a child together that Sabrina carried with the help of a sperm donor.


However, when the couple split Erica has little legal standing in obtaining custody because she never sought out adoption papers.

A judge ruled that this meant the definition of “husband” did not apply to her scenario, and so she was only given the rights of a step parent.

Fourth Circuit Judge Greg McMillan insisted that Erica id not have a “biological relationship with this child, and no contractual relationship with this child”.

However, the case led to an uproar from local activists causing Judge McMillan to reverse the decision and grant both of the mothers joint custody.

His decision to reverse his ruling makes the case a landmark case in the history of LGBT rights, particularly because the judge was asked to interpret “husband” and “wife” as “spouse”.

The case comes after a new law was introduced in the state which calls for language in legislature to be interpreted by their “natural and ordinary” meaning.

The bill states without explanation that the “meaning” should be “without forced or subtle construction that would limit or extend the meaning of the language.”

Governor Bill Haslam, who enacted the bill, has insisted that the law will not change how courts interpret legal precedent.

“While I understand the concerns raised about this bill, the Obergefell decision is the law of the land, and this legislation does not change a principle relied upon by the courts for more than a century, mitigating the substantive impact of this legislation,” the Governor said in a statement.

A group of four married, pregnant, lesbian couples have filed a lawsuit against the new anti-LGBT law.

Tate-Keith, speaking on behalf of the women involved, stated: “The Supreme Court said that gay people could get married.

“If that’s to be meaningful, then same-sex couples have to be treated the same way that opposite-sex couples are, and that means parentage just like anyone else,” she added.

This means that the Witt case does not abide by the regulation which is being challenged.

More: court, family, lesbian, LGBT, Rights, Tennessee, US

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