Parenting rights in same-sex divorces headed to a Tennessee appellate court
Tennessee still doesn't have a law on the books officially recognizing same-sex marriage but is essentially under a mandate to do so by a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year recognizing the rights of same-sex couples to marry.
If Erica Witt were a man, she would have just as much right to a daughter conceived via artificial insemination as her spouse.
But, in the first ruling of its kind in Tennessee, a Knox County judge on Friday opined that because she is a woman who legally married a woman, state law does not confer to her either the power of decision-making over the child or the obligation to provide financial support for the girl now that the same sex couple is divorcing.
"I believe this is a situation where (Erica Witt) has no biological relationship with this child, has no contractual relationship with this child," Fourth Circuit Court Judge Greg McMillan ruled.
Erica Witt and Sabrina Witt legally wed in Washington, D.C., in April 2014, bought a home in Knoxville and decided to have a child via artificial insemination from an anonymous donor. Sabrina Witt bore a baby girl as a result in January 2015. Because Tennessee did not then recognize same sex marriage as legal, Erica Witt's name was not placed on the baby's birth certificate.
Read more from our news partners at the Knoxville News Sentinel.