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Articles Posted in Family Law

Newsday reports on a recent Nassau County Family Court ruling that found a New York physician who said he donated sperm to a female co-worker as a friendly gesture is the legal father of an Oregon boy and must pay child support to the college-bound 18-year-old teenager.

In 1988, a New York doctor donated his sperm to a lesbian couple who wanted a child. Regardless of your position on this kind of stuff, it was an altruistic gesture. Probably because he had some affection for the woman, he never put in writing that he would have no legal rights or obligations regarding the child.

The lines between sperm donor and father were first blurred when the doctor allowed his name to appear on the boy’s birth certificate, an unusual choice he decided upon so that the boy would have a better sense of his identity as he got older. The nature of the relationship became even hazier in the following years as the doctor kept in contact with the child, sending him gifts and money and even cards that he signed “Daddy” or “Dad.” (If you are thinking this is all very strange, I’m right there with you.)

On Tuesday, the Court of Appeals, in a 4 to 3 majority, declined an attempt to legalize gay marriage. The majority did, however, underscore the legislature’s authority to choose to legalize same-sex marriage.

The Court reversed Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Brooke Murdock’s decision which found that the marriage statute, Family Law Article 2-201, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman was unconstitutional because it discriminated based on gender, thereby violating the Equal Rights amendment.

The opinion contained a partial concurrence/dissent and two dissenting opinions, one by Chief Judge Robert Bell. The majority held that the Equal Rights Amendment was not violated because the law discriminates equally between men and women who wished to engage in same-sex marriage (as opposed to only one of the sexes not being able to marry). This is a brilliant application of the law or the twisting of logic to get to the result the Court wanted to reach. I cannot decide. Either way, the ball is still in the hands of the Maryland legislature.