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same sex, rights, Illinois family law attorneyFor most of this nation’s history, same-sex couples have not been given the opportunity to have their relationships legally recognized. While same-sex marriage was officially recognized nationwide earlier this year, for most couples, their relationship means more than a marriage license or a ceremony. It means a shared life together, complete with the rights to inheritances and property enjoyed by heterosexual married couples. A story in the New York Times this week, however, is a grim reminder of the struggles that so many faced for so long.

Partner Adoptions

The article recounts the story of a gay man from San Francisco who was living in New York in 1977 when he met a man with whom he quickly fell in love. The couple remained together for the next ten years until the death of one partner, the year before the words "gay marriage" appeared in the New York Times for the first time.


same sex coupleWith more and more states enacting same-sex marriage laws, there will also be same-sex divorces that take place. For many divorcing same-sex couples, child custody will also be a major issue to negotiate.

Many same-sex couples become parents by using either surrogate mothers or sperm donors. For couples who use surrogate mothers, often the surrogate’s eggs are fertilized with one or both of the male couple’s sperm and the baby is then the biological child of one of the spouses. With female couples, often one of the women are impregnated with a sperm from a donor and carries and delivers the baby, making her the biological mother of the child.

A new study has revealed that the biological parentage of children in same-sex relationships has, in the past, played a major role in how the courts are deciding who gets custody of the children. The author of the study, Dr. Abbie Goldberg, found that because there are no definitive laws that protect non-biological parents, they ultimately have no say in whether or not they will be allowed to stay a part of the child’s life that, up until the relationship breakup, they were considered the other parent.


The Department of Defense has recently announced its plan to extend a range of federal benefits to same-sex spouses of military personnel and civilian defense employees. The changes are being made as a result of the Supreme Court decision that overturned a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In its decision, the court declared that gay couples married in states where it is legal must receive the same federal health, tax, Social Security and other benefits that heterosexual couples receive.

KerryThe benefits will be available regardless of sexual orientation, as long as service member-sponsors provide a valid marriage certificate. The Pentagon also said it would allow up to 10 days of leave for couples who are not stationed in jurisdictions that recognize same-sex marriage to a jurisdiction that does allow it. There are currently thirteen states, in addition to the District of Columbia, that allow same-sex marriages.

Some opponents have criticized the Pentagon for allowing special military leave for same-sex couples to marry, saying there are special provisions in law for adoptions, child birth and emergency situations, but not for marriage.  But the Pentagon says this policy will provide accelerated access to the full range of benefits offered to married military couples throughout the department.


Posted on in Divorce

Jonathan Sporn, a 54 year-old pharmaceuticals executive, and his partner Leann Leutner, a lawyer, were living together in New York City when they decided to start a family. They sought the assistance of an anonymous sperm donor, and last July, Leutner gave birth to a healthy boy.

In December, Leutner took the baby and moved to New Jersey. Tragically, on New Year’s Day, Leutner, who had struggled with postpartum depression, committed suicide. The New York Times has reported that there had been previous attempts to take her own life and a long history of psychological difficulty made worse by the postpartum depression.

3.27.13.Kerry. Taub .DivBut because of the couple’s unmarried status, Child Protective Services didn’t recognize Sporn as the baby’s father and placed the baby in foster care. Sporn has filed a petition for custody of the baby, as has Leutner’s sister, who lives in Illinois. The court has deemed that both homes are appropriate for the baby, and yet he is still in a New York City foster home until the court decides who should have custody.

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