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Mississippi court rules lesbian mother has rights to non-biological child

Written by gaytourism

This is a big victory for same-sex parents | Photo: Unsplash/Guillaume de Germain

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled last week that Christina Strickland, a lesbian mother, has parental rights to her non-biological child.

The decision gives same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual parents.

Christina and Kimberly Strickland had a child together, Zayden, when they married. Kimberly carried Zayden via assisted reproduction technology.

The couple separated in 2013 and finalized their divorce in 2015. Last year, Judge John Grant denied Christina’s request to be listed as Zayden’s legal parent due to the lack of biological ties, despite Christina helping raise their son since birth.

Neither Christina nor Kimberly made any effort to terminate the sperm donor’s rights.

Christina appealed the judge’s decision to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Recognizing marriage equality

Justice David M. Ishee wrote for the state’s Supreme Court: ‘Under Mississippi law, an anonymous sperm donor does not possess any parental right … As for Christina’s parental rights…we reverse the chancery court finding that Christina acted in loco parentis, but was not an equal parent with parental rights to Z.S.’

They finally found for Christina and remanded her appeal back to trial court.

Christina called the decision a ‘great day’.

‘It is a relief that my status as a parent in my son’s life can never be questioned or stripped away,’ she said.

Lambda Legal Counsel Beth Littrell praised the decision: ‘Today’s ruling is confirmation for thousands of married couples in Mississippi who know that the love, care, and responsibility that comes with being a mom or dad goes far beyond the blood relationship of an anonymous sperm donor.

‘The Court recognized that marriage equality as the law of the land in Mississippi. No matter the gender of your spouse, all married couples and their children now receive the same respect for their parent-child relationships when they bring children into their families through reproductive technology.’

The decision fell back on the 2015 Obergefell decision, which legalized marriage equality. It affirmed that same-sex couples and straight couples have the same rights under the law.

Read the decision in its entirety.

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