The United States Supreme Court on Monday denied certiorari to a case that sought to strip same-sex couples of their parental rights. There we no dissents among the nine Justices, signaling that the Court’s right-wing majority is not going to rollback marriage equality protections.
In June, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill petitioned the Court to consider “whether a state, consistent with the 14th Amendment due process and equal protection clauses, may adopt a biology-based birth-certificate system that includes a rebuttable presumption that a birth mother’s husband — but not wife — is the child’s biological parent,” according to SCOTUSblog.
Big news: The Supreme Court has declined to hear Box v. Henderson, turning away Indiana's request to roll back equal rights for same-sex parents. No noted dissents.
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) December 14, 2020
Mark Joseph Stern at Slate picked apart the case – “a smokescreen for discrimination”- in November:
The plaintiffs are eight married lesbian couples in Indiana who used a sperm donor to conceive. When a married opposite-sex couple uses a sperm donor, Indiana recognizes the birth mother’s husband as the child’s parent. When a married same-sex couple does the same thing, however, the state refuses to list the birth mother’s wife as the child’s parent. In both instances, the second parent has no biological connection to the child; Indiana’s decision to extend parental rights to the nonbiological husbands of birth mothers, but not the wives of birth mothers, is sheer discrimination.
Hill, the Indiana attorney general, has tried to distinguish Box v. Henderson from Pavan by misrepresenting state law. He claims that the case is about a state’s right to acknowledge ‘biological distinction between males and females.’ According to Hill, Indiana law only presumes that a birth mother’s husband is the father of her child. A birth mother’s wife, by contrast, ‘is never the biological father,’ so she does not deserve the presumption of parentage. But this argument uses biology as a smoke screen for discrimination. No husband is ever asked to prove his paternity before he is listed on his wife’s birth certificate. Why must a wife undergo this indignity?
Moreover, it’s untrue that a birth mother’s wife alwayshas ‘no biological connection’ to her child, as Hill insists. One set of plaintiffs in this case, a lesbian couple, prove this point: One partner provided an egg, and her wife carried the child. Thus, the birth mother and her wife have a biological link to their offspring. Again: If husbands receive a presumption of parentage because they may be a biological parent, why shouldn’t wives? After all, contrary to Hill’s archaic view, a birth mother’s wife might be a biological parent, too.
Thus, Obergefell remains the law of the land.
Thirty-seven days until the inauguration.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.