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Supreme Court Affirms Parental Obligations Under Marriage Equality Act

October 4, 2018, 4:56 PM HST
* Updated October 4, 4:57 PM
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The Hawai‘i Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, that same-sex spouses must be treated as the presumed parents of children born during their marriage, just as opposite-sex spouses are.

The case involves a dispute between L.C. and M.G., a formerly married same-sex couple, regarding whether L.C. is a legal parent of a child conceived using anonymous donor sperm and born to M.G. during the marriage. L.C. asked the Hawai‘i Supreme Court to rule that she is not a legal parent and has no obligation to pay child support because she is not biologically related to the child.

The State of Hawai‘i submitted a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of M.G., urging the Court to read Hawai‘i parentage law in a gender-neutral manner, as required by the Marriage Equality Act, and to apply the marital presumption of parentage equally to both same-sex and opposite-sex married couples. Thursday’s ruling did just that.

Attorney General Russell Suzuki said, “The state submitted its brief in this case to ensure that the Marriage Equality Act is properly enforced, so that the children of married same-sex couples have the same opportunity to receive child support as the children of married opposite-sex couples.”

According to Solicitor General Clyde Wadsworth, who argued for the state, “The Marriage Equality Act says that all laws regarding marriage must be applied equally to same-sex and opposite-sex couples. The court today made clear that ‘all’ means all.”

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A copy of the opinion is attached here.

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