On Thursday, a Kansas judge ordered a man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple to pay child support, despite the fact that the man and the couple signed a contract waiving him of his parental rights.
Shawnee County District Court Judge Mary Mattivi ruled against William Marotta, saying that he and the couple he donated to did not follow 1994 state law requiring the presence of a licensed physician during artificial insemination.
"In this case, quite simply, the parties failed to perform to statutory requirement of the Kansas Parentage Act in not enlisting a licensed physician at some point in the artificial insemination process, and the parties' self-designation of (Marotta) as a sperm donor is insufficient to relieve (Marotta) of parental right and responsibilities to the child," Mattivi wrote, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.
In 2009, Marotta responded to Jennifer Schreiner and Angela Bauer's Craigslist ad seeking a sperm donor. Before the artificial insemination, all three signed a contract waiving Marotta's responsibilities and later that year, Schreiner gave birth.
The state of Kansas denied the welfare claim and ordered Scheiner to disclose the identity of the father, so he could begin paying child support. Since Kansas does not recognize same-sex marriages, the couple had to list Schreiner as the mother on the birth certificate, while not including Bauer.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families then filed suit against Marotta, seeking to have him declared the child's father so he would be forced to pay part of $6,000 in public assistance the child receives, in addition to regular child support.
Citing past cases, Marotta's lawyer, Benoit Swinnen, argued that his client was legally a sperm donor and therefore not required to pay child support. He also argued that Kansas' law does not explicitly require that artificial insemination be carried out by a licensed physician.
After the ruling, Swinnen said he was "disappointed" but "not totally surprised" by the decision and that he would "absolutely" appeal.
Bauer and Schreiner also opposed the judge's decision. "This was a wonderful opportunity with a guy with an admirable, giving character who wanted nothing more than to help us have a child," Bauer told the Capital Journal. "I feel like the state of Kansas has made a mess out of the situation."