THE JUST OUT: November 19th, 2010
Courts look to conclude same-sex parenting case after four years of legal drama
Many applauded when the Oregon Supreme Court ruled last year that same-sex couples who undergo artificial insemination have the same parental rights as married ones. The court stated that when a lesbian couple decides to inseminate, the non-birth partner is a legal parent of the child(ren), in the same way that a husband who consents to insemination is also a legal parent. Groups such as Basic Rights Oregon and the American Civil Liberties Union held it a clear victory for equal rights.
On November 17 two women returned to a Multnomah County courtroom in what both hope will be the final act in a legal drama that’s played out for almost four years. While the courts have determined that in some cases lesbian couples can be treated like married ones, they haven’t determined if this lesbian couple can be. Meanwhile, the fate of two children is at stake. As far as the kids are considered, the civil rights war may have been won, but the battle between Sondra Shineovich and Sarah Kemp isn’t over yet.
A question of blood and intent
At the heart of the issue are two children, who for the purposes of this report will be called Paul and Agatha. Their biological mother, Sarah Kemp, and Kemp’s former partner, Sondra Shineovich, were together for 10 years. During that time they conceived two children through artificial insemination. Or did they?