The Fifth District Court of Appeal issued a 76 page opinion on Friday in the case of T.M.H. v. D.M.T.. In this landscape altering decision, the Court was presented with a case of first impression where two lesbian partners were the mothers of and joined in the raising of a minor child, who was borne by one after in vitro fertilization of the eggs of the other. The lower court, in granting summary judgment finding that the Appellant had no legal rights to the child whatsoever, actually made clear that it was hoped that the ruling would be overturned. And, despite a 43 page dissent offered by Judge C. Alan Lawson supporting the idea that the birth mother was the sole legal mother of the child in question, the Fifth District Court, Judge Sawaya’s detailed opinion found that both parents had legal rights to the child. Not surprisingly, the Fifth District also certified to the Supreme Court as a question of great importance the following:
Does application of section 742.14 to deprive parental rights to a lesbian woman who provided her ova to her lesbian partner so both women could have a child to raise together as equal parental partners and who did parent the child for several years after its birth render the statute unconstitutional under the Equal Protection and Privacy clauses of the Federal and State Constitutions?
However you respond to this ruling, there can be no question that it will require the Courts of this State to address issues of first impression that will shape the way the law is applied for years to come.