On Friday, the Kansas Supreme Court issued a ruling protecting the rights of same-sex couples to both be recognized as the legal parents of the children they are raising together. The case involved two women, Marci Frazier and Kelly Goudschaal, who had been raising children together, but then faced a custody dispute after they separated. The Court ruled that the coparenting contract the couple had signed is valid and should be recognized, because their children are better off having two parents than just one:
To summarize, the coparenting agreement before us cannot be construed as a prohibited sale of the children because the biological mother retains her parental duties and responsibilities. The agreement is not injurious to the public because it provides the children with the resources of two persons, rather than leaving them as the fatherless children of an artificially inseminated mother. No societal interest has been harmed; no mischief has been done. Like the contract in Shirk, the coparenting agreement here contains “no element of immorality or illegality and did not violate public policy,” but rather “the contract was for the advantage and welfare of the child[ren].”
The decision remands the case back to the district court with this guidance to work out the details for the couple.
The conclusion in this case is simple and poignant: a child’s parents are the people that have legally committed to caring for them, not necessarily who they are biologically connected to. Interestingly, the justices do not even address the question of same-sex marriage, recognizing that protecting the interests of children is what takes priority. In this case, the children deserve to enjoy the continued support of both of their moms, and nothing in Kansas law prevents that.