Menu Contact White & White, Attorneys at Law
Free Initial Consultation 865-622-7768

Gay couples given equal custody rights in Tennessee

What makes a parent a parent? Is it biology alone that makes the cut?

A Tennessee court has made another, more final, ruling on what many people feel like should have never been an issue in the first place: whether or not married gays who have a child via artificial insemination using donor sperm have the same rights to that child that a heterosexual couple would. Specifically at issue was whether or not the nonbiological parent in a same-sex union had the same parental rights as a nonbiological parent in a heterosexual union.

Under the law, the husband of a woman who becomes pregnant via artificial insemination is that child's presumptive father. The language of the law hasn't been updated to reflect the sweeping social changes brought about by the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage.

A number of politicians in the state rushed a law into place that would have required the courts to use the "natural and ordinary meaning" of language in any law -- effectively barring the nonbiological parent in these situations from being the presumptive parent simply because the other parent was a woman, not a man.

Four lesbian couples, each married and expecting a child conceived by artificial insemination, brought suit against the state -- but a lower court's ruling has preempted the higher court. Before the hastily passed "natural and ordinary meaning" law was pushed into place, a judge in a divorce case said that the new conservative-leaning law did nothing to circumvent another state law that requires the readings of gender-specific laws to be gender-neutral. Under that ruling, "father" can equal "mother" and "husband" can be read as "wife."

The court ultimately dismissed each of the four lawsuits, saying there had been no discrimination (since the first child had yet to be born) and that there should be none, given the interpretation of the law that the courts are using. Despite the dismissal, gay-rights activists are counting this case as a win.

An attorney can provide you with more information about child custody issues in Tennessee, including those that deal with same-sex parents.

Source:, "Tennessee judge rules gay couples have equal parental rights," accessed Aug. 02, 2017

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Honors & Memberships
  • 10 Best – 2016 | Client Satisfaction | American Institute of Family Law Attorneys(TM)

    He has received this award 2016-2019 for 10 best Attorneys, Client Satisfaction Award.

  • The National Top 40 Under 40 Advocates

    He has received this award 6 years in a row now. for Top 100 Attorneys.

  • 10 Best Attorney | Client Satisfaction | American Institute of Family Law Attorneys(TM)

    Member since 2018 for Top 10 Family Law Attorney for Tennessee.

  • Family Law Top 10 Attorney - 2017-2019 | Attorney and Practice Magazines

    Member since 2017 for Top 10 Family Law Attorney in Tennessee.

  • Best Legal Counsel

    Member since 2018 for Best Legal Counsel in Family Law.

  • Lawyers of Distinction

    Member since 2017 for Excellence in Family and Divorce Top 10% in the USA.

  • Best Attorneys of America | Lifetime Charter Member

    Lifetime charter member for Best Attorneys in America for Tennessee.

Contact Us For A Free Case Evaluation - Email or Call 865-622-7768

White & White, Attorneys at Law, is committed to working with individuals to help them reshape their lives. Perhaps you need a second chance after getting arrested; maybe you're trying to pull yourself together during a frustrating divorce. Whatever the issue, the experienced lawyers at White & White, Attorneys at Law, are here to help.

Individuals are encouraged to contact the firm online or call to schedule a free initial consultation and discuss their legal needs with an experienced Sevierville family law attorney. Appointments are scheduled during regular business hours, but evening and weekend appointments are available upon request.


Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

White & White, Attorneys at Law 216 Phoenix Court Suite D Seymour, TN 37865 Toll Free: 888-551-9046 Phone: 865-622-7768 Fax: 865-577-1655 Seymour Law Office Map

Gay couples given equal custody rights in Tennessee | White & White, Attorneys at Law