A lesbian couple's custody battle, which has made its way to the Florida Supreme Court, could force lawmakers in the state to reconsider the definition of motherhood, as well as sperm and egg donor laws and legislation concerning gay rights.
The Brevard County couple had a daughter together in 2004, nine years into their relationship. One partner donated the egg that was fertilized and implanted in the other. Two years later, the pair split, and the birth mother left Florida with the girl, without telling her former partner, the biological mother. The birth mother was later tracked down in Australia.
A lower court ruled that the biological mother has no legal rights under state law and the birth mother should have legal custody of the child, though the judge noted that he hoped his decision would be overturned. This is exactly what happened when the case made it to the 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach. A judge there ruled that the women should share parental rights.
Now, the case is pending in the state's Supreme Court and raises constitutional questions about sperm and egg donor rights, same-sex marriage and the rights of gays to adopt and raise children.