On February 13, 2023, Judge Lynne McGuire of Oklahoma ruled that a LGBTQ mother’s parental rights should be terminated in favor of her ex-wife and the couple’s sperm donor (FD-2021-3681 Wilson v. Williams, FP-22-44 Vaughn v. Wilson).
Kris Williams and Rebekah Wilson were married in 2019. Two months later, Wilson gave birth to the couple’s son, conceived using donor sperm. Both Williams and Wilson were listed on the child’s birth certificate as his parents. In 2021, the couple divorced, Wilson moved in with the couple’s sperm donor, Harlan Vaughn, and took the child with her. In 2022, Vaughn filed for paternity, which resulted in Judge McGuire’s unfortunate ruling.
Judge McGuire indicated that because Williams did not adopt nor give birth to the child, she could not establish a “mother-child relationship” under Oklahoma law. Meanwhile, had this been a heterosexual couple who had a child in wedlock, both would have been legally presumed to be the child’s parents—both in Oklahoma and in Pennsylvania.
Williams’s attorney, Robyn Hopkins, plans to appeal because of the Supreme Court’s decision in Pavan v. Smith, which held that it is unconstitutional to discriminate against LGBTQ couples when determining a child’s legal parents. The Supreme Court has changed significantly since this decision was handed down, however—so much so that Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022. In today’s uncertain political climate, particularly for LGBTQ people, LGBTQ couples in Pennsylvania should consider having the non-biological parent adopt the couple’s children to avoid finding themselves in a situation similar to Williams’s.