Society

Kansas Sperm Donor Child Support Case Is Really About Gay Parents, Attorney Argues

| by

The lawyer for a man who donated his sperm to a lesbian couple four years ago told a Kansas court Friday that the state is persecuting sperm donor William Marotta to make a point about conventional family structure — that does not include gay parents.

Kansas is one of 35 states that bans gay marriages either with a state constitutional amendment, a state law or — as in the case of 27 states including Kansas — both.

In 2009, Marotta answered a Craigslist ad placed by Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner, a couple who wanted to have a biological child. Marotta and the couple drew up a contract stating that the man gave up his parental rights over the subsequently-born child, who turned out to be a girl.

Marotta says that he has seen the child only twice in her life. The first time was right after the girl’s birth. The next came by way of a chance meeting at the Kansas State Fair. Neither time, he says, did he identify himself as the child’s father.

Not long after the baby was born, Bauer and Schreiner broke up, leaving Schreiner with the child. But an injury also left the mother unable to work.

The Kansas Department of Children and Families took up the case. The state went after Marotta (pictured), suing him for $6,000 in child support payments. But Marotta’s contract, his lawyers say, specifically let him out of any financial obligations to the child. They say he donated his sperm out of altruism, even refusing the $50 that Bauer and Schreiner wanted to pay him.

The state argues that the contract is not valid because under state law, artificial insemination can be performed only by physician. None was present when the women used a home-rigged syringe and tube to inseminate Schreiner with Marotta’s sperm.

But Marotta’s attorney Benoit Swinnen told Shawnee County District Court Judge Mary Mattivi that the law is ambiguously worded. While the law says, “The donor of semen provided to a licensed physician for use in artificial insemination of a woman other than the donor’s wife is treated in law as if he were not the birth father of a child thereby conceived,” it never specifies that a physician must carry out the insemination procedure, Swinnen argued.

Marotta’s lawyers also want Schreiner’s former partner involved in the lawsuit. The fact that the state has simply treated Bauer as if she does not exist, for purposes of the case, even though she shares child care with her ex-partner, demonstrates that the state is simply using the case to deliver a message that only a man and a woman can be considered a child’s true parents, Swinnen argued.

SOURCES: Topeka Capital Journal, NBC News (2), ProCon.org