Sunday, June 24, 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: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Itís hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bayís two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18