Texas currently does not recognize gay marriage, but if the state chooses to in the future, it should keep one thing in mind: the laws can be complicated. Should gay marriage become more widely recognized, it is important for states to clarify and amend laws to ensure equal rights and fairness for all parties involved. For example, when same-sex couples with children decide to part ways, who is considered the biological parent and who gets child custody?
In 2007, two women married in Canada and were married for two years. During that time, they had a child together. One woman gave birth to the child and was therefore considered the child’s legal mother. The other woman, however, played a small role in the child’s early life and sought child custody and other benefits. The woman currently lives in the Upper Peninsula area of Michigan, which, like Texas, does not recognize same-sex marriage. Therefore, the court is refusing to grant her any parental rights.
Although a Michigan appeals court agreed with this decision, a Detroit federal judge is looking to challenge this law and others that affect gay couples. This case will be discussed in court in February.
Most of the current child custody laws were created for heterosexual couples. With same-sex marriage becoming more common, it can be a challenge to uphold these laws. When a married woman and man have a baby together, they are both considered the parents. If they divorce, they share child custody. This situation is different for same-sex couples, where typically only one partner can be considered the biological parent.
It is important for same-sex couples to understand that their marriage is not valid everywhere. Because only some states recognize it, divorce and child custody issues can be difficult to resolve in another state. It may be possible, but the process can be lengthy and costly.
The Mining Journal, “Gay partner child custody denied” Martyn Williams, Oct. 25, 2013