December 10, 2009

For the mixed-up annals of gay rights.

"The Irish Supreme Court has ruled that a gay man who donated his sperm to a lesbian couple should be permitted to see his 3-year-old son regularly — in part because Ireland's constitution doesn't recognize the lesbians as a valid family unit."

UPDATE: Details here:
The case arose out of a situation where the lesbian couple, who were in a long-term committed relationship, decided they wanted to have a child with the aid of a sperm donor. They decided it would be better for the child if the sperm donor was known to them and the child, and had a relationship with the child, who would know this was his or her biological father.

They drew up an agreement with the father, in this case specifying the nature of the relationship between him and the child, including the fact that the couple would parent the child, while he would occupy the role of “favourite uncle”. He would have no financial or other obligations towards the child, and his contact with the child would be by agreement with the couple.

When the child, a boy, was born, the father wanted more involvement than the couple felt appropriate and after a number of fraught meetings, relations between the father and the couple broke down.

They decided to visit Australia for a year and he took legal proceedings to prevent this, along with proceedings seeking guardianship and access to the child. He lost in the High Court and appealed to the Supreme Court, where he won the right of access, though not guardianship.

51 comments:

chickenlittle said...

The Irish Supreme Court has ruled that a gay man who donated his sperm to a lesbian couple should be permitted to see his 3-year-old son regularly

A needlessly complex way to start a family.

traditionalguy said...

What a mess. The laws were designed for a simpler time. Unless there is a sperm donor abandonment statute, then the donor IS the father. That the court's ruling also mentioned the two gay ladies are a non-family is dicta and must mean that one is the mother and the other is a companion but not the mother, nor the father. Why is that a scandal. The real father got visitation and the Mother and her companion got custody, but the famale companion was not declared the father. What's wrong with that?

veni vidi vici said...

Is there a joke somewhere in this post's headline?

Ralph L said...

No buggery occurred in the making of this baby.

Best I could do, vvv

Andrea said...

I'm with chickenlittle. Why do people with overly complicated lives like this want to throw having a kid into the mix? "Looks like there's a five minute window in our day where we have nothing to obsess over. Well, I know just the fix for that!"

Joe said...

Why would any man donate sperm and any woman use such? Why didn't his lesbian couple adopt? Surely there are Irish children in need of such.

dbp said...

If they had just shelled-out to a sperm bank they would have prevented this whole problem.

ricpic said...

Bull Dykes vs Screaming Fairies ringed by Silent Straights who are not allowed to say a word but can at least have the satisfaction of watching the Horrible Homos flay each other alive.

Ralph L said...

Some women just have to have their own baby (some men, too). Desperate wanna be mothers have been a recurring theme on L&O.

Ann Althouse said...

"Why didn't his lesbian couple adopt?"

Why not ask everyone to adopt? People like having their own children. The woman was capable of having a baby and wanted a family. I assume she had a stable, good home to raise her own child in. She needed a sperm donor, as many heterosexual couples do. The problem is a failure to get the sperm through a method that has the father giving up his parental rights.

A strange thing about this case as reported in this news article is that it seems relevant that the man was gay. Why?

Now, clearly, it was relevant that the women were gay and not able to marry. If it were a heterosexual couple where a sperm donor was needed, it looks as though the court would have denied visitation rights.

Bruce Hayden said...

Frankly, I find this quite humorous.

The problem for the women is that women routinely now get child support out of sperm donors. Not these women, of course, since they are lesbians. But many others. The stories are legion. Women promising that they are on birth control. Women turning used condoms inside out to impregnate themselves, after the guy is gone. That sort of stuff. And, of course, the guys end up paying child support for the next 18 years.

So, come on women, which do you want? Do you want to give the provider of the sperm paternal rights when he has paternal responsibilities? Or do you want to raise families all on your own, with no intervention from the paternal part of society except for some otherwise unused sperm?

And, no, over a long period of time, you are not going to be able to have your cake and eat it too. We make up almost half the humankind, and many of us have sympathetic womenfolk too.

Scott M said...

If the woman already had children, I'd be inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt re "needlessly complicated". However, if she was a first time mom this time out, I would lump her in with everyone else that thinks kids are just going to be so much fun.

Sure...they are...but damn, there's a cost. I have four children and both love and treasure each one dearly, but my life with children is NOTHING like I thought it would be when I started having them.

On the plus side, at least they're not the deaf lesbian couple a few years back who were trying to find out a way to guarantee genetically that their child would be born deaf. I would consider that criminal for all involved.

Expat(ish) said...

My first thought was: how can you tell if sperm is gay?

Too many jokes, too little time.

Anyway, one of the cool things about kids is that he'll grow up thinking this is all quite normal. Until he's 14 when nothing is normal, but that is normal too.

-XC

wv = cozingul. Srsly.

Ralph L said...

If they had just shelled-out to a sperm bank
Or gone to an out-of-town pickup joint. Perhaps they believe in a gay gene.

Scott M said...

My first thought was: how can you tell if sperm is gay?

1) Perfectly manicured tail.

2) Light teal in color instead of white.

3) Completely ignores the egg and thinks it looks like a boil or tumor.

Bruce Hayden said...

Now, clearly, it was relevant that the women were gay and not able to marry. If it were a heterosexual couple where a sperm donor was needed, it looks as though the court would have denied visitation rights.

Ok, willing to admit that I went a bit overboard here. When you are talking formal sperm donoring, maybe the rules are, and should be, a bit different.

WV: stats - how often does the guy get stuck paying for kids he never sees? (would have been more fun if I had gotten this with a Carbonhagen post).

Icepick said...

Bruce Hayden wrote: So, come on women, which do you want? Do you want to give the provider of the sperm paternal rights when he has paternal responsibilities? Or do you want to raise families all on your own, with no intervention from the paternal part of society except for some otherwise unused sperm?

So, some women have made some questionable decisions and you want all women to take responsibility for their decisions?

Ralph L said...

it looks as though the court would have denied visitation rights
What is the state of most US state laws, assuming no prior agreement about visitation? Don't they favor the sperm donor regardless of the orientation of the mother?
Or did the court overrule the sperm contract?

Bruce Hayden said...

Anyway, one of the cool things about kids is that he'll grow up thinking this is all quite normal. Until he's 14 when nothing is normal, but that is normal too.

Not always. My daughter and two others had a kindergarten buddy (girl) when they were seniors. And the buddy had two mothers. One of the others was a guy. 18, fully grown, etc. For most of the year, the young buddy was totally freaked out whenever her older male buddy was anywhere around. Turns out, he was the first (mostly) mature male that she had ever had to deal with.

Yes, I know that many lesbian couples go out of their way to make sure that they have male role models in their kids lives (hopefully not all gay males, but gay male is better than no males). But some don't, as was the case this time.

What is scary to me though is the thought of them trying to raise the boy without strong male influences in his life. There are reasons that many, if not most, men in prison didn't have fathers growing up. Boys need either fathers, or strong father substitutes, if they are going to be properly programmed for society.

Michael Hasenstab said...

Paging David Crosby.

WV: hophoses. Not a good idea to hophoses without protection.

Bruce Hayden said...

So, some women have made some questionable decisions and you want all women to take responsibility for their decisions?

No, what I actually want is the pendulum to swing back to where women have responsibilities here too. Too long, the women have sole control over the decisions on whether or not to have the kid. If they don't want it, and the guy does, then tough for the guy - the women can abort. If they want a kid, even though the guy takes precautions against becoming a father, then tough again for the guy. He is stuck paying for the kid for the next 18 years.

Oh, and then there are all the cases where the guy really isn't the real father, and just had sex with the woman sometime in the past. Or just had the same name as someone who had had sex with her. And they can still end up paying for the kid for the next 18 years.

This inequity isn't isolated. It happens every day in every city in the country. There is an extremely strong bias in favor of women and against men in the domestic courts in this country, all in the name of the "best interests of the children".

Scott M said...

@Bruce

Hotbutton issue for me. And I agree with the inequality of reproductive choices if nothing else.

I've gotten into this argument with ardent feminists before and what shocked me is that a good many of them didn't feel like the man had any reproductive choices to make, so why should they be legislated?

There is no case arguable in which a man should be able to force, through the law/courts/whatever, a woman carrying his kid to go to term. However, the reverse is not true. Give men the same weight of decision that women have. At a whim, they can decide whether or not they want to have a child. Give men the same whim. Give us an affidavit we can sign when presented with with a pregnant former sex-partner...give men the ability to sign "I don't want this child".

The laws as they stand seem to stem from an era where a single woman was expected to care for her children instead of provide for them. This is not the case any longer. In fact, I believe it flies in the face of feminism to suggest otherwise.

reader_iam said...

Hey! Icepick! Hi! **waving enthusiastically**

***

wv: putty

What family units are like more often than not these days

reader_iam said...

Google really is a smart ass when it comes to its random wv's, isn't it?

wv: untie

Oh, never mind.

Matt Eckert said...

Two Irish lesbians walk into a gay bar in Galway and stride boldly up to the bar.
“Might we have a couple of pints of Guinness please your worship?”
“Aye to be sure darlings I would love to accommodate you but me taps is broken and all me Guinness in the bar here is in the can. Would that set you up proper?”
“Guinness in the can, why that is just not natural. It’s just not right. But need makes us do what we must I suppose so pour us a couple of pints boyo.”
So the bartender pours them a couple of pints and then several more. Plus a few shots of Jameson. They laughed and they cried and there was great craic all the night long. They had a grand time. To the point that the poor dears were three sheets to the wind. So one of the girls leans over the bar and asks in a confidential tone.
“Me partner and me would really love to have a bairn, might you have a wee pint of sperm to help us along?”
The bartender looks mournfully at her and says “Aye to be sure darling I would love to accommodate you but all me sperm in the bar here is in the can.”

Joe said...

Why not ask everyone to adopt? People like having their own children.

Because it isn't THEIR own child. It is HER child with some guy.

A bigger point is that anyone who pays attention would know that this was an inevitable outcome. Even sperm banks are being forced to drop their anonymity rules, often AFTER the fact.

With a formal, legal adoption, this wouldn't have been an issue.

c3 said...

I'm getting confused now:

Is this marriage stuff about biology or not?

peter hoh said...

In similar cases in the US, the courts have found that the "donor" had to pay child support. An agreement -- between the adults -- regarding such a donation does not appear to be recognized by the courts.

Some have suggested that this is because the child, so conceived, is not party to the agreement and in no way capable of waving his or her right to child support.

Sperm banks, however, are viewed as providing paternity-free sperm. While some mothers who have used sperm banks have been able to identify the biological fathers of their children, I don't think a court would hold those men to be legal parents.

Of course, I am not a lawyer. I'm going on media reports.

In the case of a child born to heterosexual parents, the law assumes that the husband is the father, even if a paternity test shows otherwise.

Althouse is correct that the sexual orientation of the donor is not relevant to the case.

mccullough said...

Romantic Ireland's dead and gone
It's with O'Leary in the grave

Shanna said...

So, come on women, which do you want? Do you want to give the provider of the sperm paternal rights when he has paternal responsibilities? Or do you want to raise families all on your own, with no intervention from the paternal part of society except for some otherwise unused sperm?

What regular women want and what a lesbian couple wants are pretty different things, in that department. Don’t ya think?

I mean, I get that you want to make some sort of point about child support, but this is a weird case to do it on.

Bruce Hayden said...

In the case of a child born to heterosexual parents, the law assumes that the husband is the father, even if a paternity test shows otherwise.

It is typically a reputable presumption. However, the problem typically is that by the time the guy gets around to questioning the paternity of the kid, it is too late. Some sort of reliance interest or something. But, theoretically, if a kid arrives and the husband of the mother goes, that kid doesn't look like me at all, we had better check this out, gets an immediate paternity check, etc., he should probably be ok legally. Of course, by doubting his wife, after what she has just gone through, he is asking for a divorce, at best.

Arturius said...

The woman was capable of having a baby and wanted a family.

Evidently not with her partner who simply didn't posess the necessary equipment provided by nature to do the job.

Not everyone has to adopt because not everyone is in a homosexual relationship which automatically precludes the couple from being able to procreate, at least naturally.

For hetero couples who seek invitro fertilization, adoption might be a more attractive route considering the odds of producing a litter as opposed to one offspring.

Arturius said...

Oh, and then there are all the cases where the guy really isn't the real father, and just had sex with the woman sometime in the past. Or just had the same name as someone who had had sex with her. And they can still end up paying for the kid for the next 18 years.

This is easily remedied by going on the Maury Povich show.

Harsh Pencil said...

One thing I haven't seen mentioned in this whole comment thread (apologies if I missed it) is any focus on the right of a child to know his or her biological father.

In many cases, a child not knowing one of his biological parents is a necessary tragedy. But to purposefully create a situation where the child doesn't know one or both of his biological parents seems to me to be child abuse. (Unless you want to argue that it was the only way the child would ever been born.)

But at the very least, I almost never see in these discussions much focus on anything but the rights of the adults involved.

Expat(ish) said...

@Scott M -> Too dang funny.

@Bruce Hayden -> I've seen similar problems with kids raised in a very religious env, etc, etc. My point, as far as I had one, was that this was normal for them. Until they noticed it wasn't and then they freaked out.

My semi-extensive experience with 14 year olds (pick an age, maybe) is that they are pretty easy to discombobulate.

-XC

Shanna said...

For hetero couples who seek invitro fertilization, adoption might be a more attractive route considering the odds of producing a litter as opposed to one offspring.

I think more families who do invitro should consider adoption, but it’s really none of my business. But for a woman with a healthy reproductive system it’s probably a whole lot cheaper to just get some sperm. It’s my understanding that adoption can be a very costly procedure.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

But to purposefully create a situation where the child doesn't know one or both of his biological parents seems to me to be child abuse

Isn't that somewhat of a description of adoption?

Is adoption child abuse? Are you saying that people should not be allowed to give a child up for adoption, because the child may not know one or both of his/her biological parents and this constitutes abuse?

Shanna said...

Yeah, DBQ, I can't help but think about the guy who found out he was Charles Manson's son. It surely wasn't child abuse not to tell him that.

Child abuse is going way too far anyway. Some kids don't know who their parents really are, and they may have a need to know someday. I don't think there is any harm in letting this father who wants to be involved spend time with his child.

AllenS said...

I hate to say it, but this is a time to consult Muslim law.

peter hoh said...

HarshPencil:

Here are a couple of articles for you written by donor-conceived children.

peter hoh said...

DBQ: adoption does not set out to create a situation in which a child does not know one or both of his or her parents.

knox said...

I hate to say it, but this is a time to consult Muslim law.

LOL

traditionalguy said...

Allen S...That's not nice. Under Muslim law this dispute's required resolution would make the child an instant orphan.Thank god for 1400 years of Christianity in Ireland.

Ralph L said...

I can't help but think about the guy who found out he was Charles Manson's son
A "Criminal Minds" I saw in syndication last night used this idea. The wife of a serial killer snuck their child away and took the rap for killing him so he wouldn't find out his true parentage.

David said...

This is Ireland,right? Where do the sheep fit in?

Expat(ish) said...

@David - Wherever you like, but remember, no smoking indoors.

-XC

Ralph L said...

Not even ewe fit in the sheep.

Youngblood said...

Sheesh. If you can't rely on LGBT solidarity, what can you rely on?

Ribby said...

We shouldn't assume that someone who subjects themselves to fetility treatments with donor sperm or eggs is just as willing to adopt. When my husband and I were undergoing such treatments, I was surprised to observe several couples, who after trying several rounds of invitro, unsuccessfully, chose to remain childless. Some people need the biological connection (by at least one person when either egg or sperm donation is used) and some people need to experience child birth. To them, the loss of parenting a child didn't outweigh the loss of dna connection or childbirth. In my case, the loss of being a parent and raising a child as my own (yes, when you adopt, the child becomes your own) would have been the greatest loss for my husband and I, and the loss far outweighted the loss of having a biological connection or childbirth. We chose adoption to form our family and are the proud parents of two beautiful girls. Also, adoption has come a long way in a generation. Today, we have a lot of information about our children's birthparents. We met both of them several times. They actually chose us to be parents out of many prospective adoptive parents, and we have contact through letters and pictures. We share our childrens' birth stories with them through pictures and letters, and they will grow up knowing how our family was formed. I suspect they will meet their birthfamilies fact-to-face when that are older (or they may choose not to). It is their choice. I believe as technology advances, we will sadly see a lot more of these cases come up. I don't know the answer, but I believe all children need to know their story and where (and from whom) they came from.

kentuckyliz said...

I have friends, a gay couple, fostering and adopting three young children. Two gay men as parents sure beats a meth-addicted stripper prostitute mom with no shame (continues her gangbang even though the social worker has shown up for a home visit) and no parenting ability (letting her toddler children wander on a highway at 2 in the morning, which is what triggered the foster care in the first place).

The court is bending over backwards to protect her and the "sperm donors'" rights, but they are very close to terminating parental rights and doing the adoption. These gay men can't get married in my state but they can adopt. We're keeping it quiet so that no fundamentalist whacko gets irked and introduces a bill in the state house.....

kentuckyliz said...

I forgot to mention that said meth addicted stripper prostitute mom sexually abused her own children.