Sunday, April 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Protecting the rights of all parents

Florida law has long been clear that when heterosexual parents split up, neither parent loses his or her rights. Now a narrow majority of the Florida Supreme Court has come to the enlightened conclusion that similar protections must apply as well to same-sex couples who share children. The ruling is another enlightened strike against discrimination and a reminder that state law has not yet evolved to match the reality of modern families or the myriad scenarios by which technology allows them to expand.

The 4-3 opinion issued Thursday centers on a law that attempts to define parental rights when it comes to the egg and sperm donations used by infertility specialists to help prospective parents conceive a child. Under Florida law, it's clear that anonymous egg and sperm donors who sign away their parental rights at the time of donation cannot later claim they have a parental right to the child.

But in the Brevard County case before the court, a woman who now lives in Australia has been trying to use the law to justify denying her former partner access to a child they had together. The woman in Australia, who was infertile, had the child after being implanted with her partner's donated egg. The couple used their joint bank accounts to pay for the treatment, and they gave the child a hyphenated last name and began raising the child together.

Yet, just like the case with so many heterosexual couples, the relationship didn't last. A few years after the child's 2004 birth, the woman who delivered the child took the child to Australia. The other woman hired a private detective and eventually filed a petition asserting her parental rights — which eventually triggered this week's ruling.

Fundamental to the court's decision: There would be no question of parental rights if this was a heterosexual couple with the same set of facts regarding both biology and the assumption of parental responsibility. That means the law, as applied by a trial court in this case, was unconstitutional under the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. and Florida constitutions. The justices remanded the case back to trial court to determine a child custody agreement that includes both women.

That is progress, and it comes just three years after a state appeals court struck down an arcane state system that allowed gay individuals to serve as foster parents but not adopt a child. There were echoes of that decision here, as the court noted in its ruling: "We conclude that the State would be hard pressed to find why a child would not be better off having two loving parents in her life, regardless of whether those parents were of the same sex, than she would be having only one."

Indeed. For all the progress reflected in this opinion, it is a sober reminder that too many adults, regardless of their sexual orientation, put their animosity toward a former partner above the best interests of their child. In this case, the Florida Supreme Court found in the interest of the child but also in the interest of equal rights. That is the right call.

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Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18