Footnotes (199)



Equal Protection for Children of Same-Sex Parents

Catherine E. Smith

University of Denver Sturm College of Law

April 9, 2012

90 Washington University Law Review 1589 (2013)
U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-06

Gay rights litigation and advocacy traditionally have focused on the unequal treatment of gay and lesbian individuals and couples; less attention has been dedicated explicitly to the legal rights of the children of gay and lesbian parents. This article asserts that a child of same-sex parents denied a government benefit has a cognizable equal protection challenge – a legal claim that is separate and distinct from that of the child’s gay and lesbian parents. It is well-settled equal protection law that the government may not treat non-marital children differently than marital children because of the moral disdain of their parents’ relationship, and, such distinctions are subject to intermediate scrutiny. Today, a majority of states exclude children of same-sex parents from the economic benefits derived from their non-biological same-sex parent, including health insurance, workers’ compensation benefits, child support and social security benefits. When medical events, divorces, lay-offs, and death occur in the lives of children of same-sex parents in these “no-protection” states, they are denied important economic safety nets – safety nets that children of married and unmarried opposite-sex parents enjoy. As a subset of non-marital children, children of same-sex parents exercise no control over their parents’ conduct but suffer concrete economic injuries because of the state’s imputation of morality upon them. Such government-sponsored discrimination is not justified on the basis of preserving traditional family values or to ensure administrative efficiency. No-protection states must dismantle the insurmountable barrier that blocks children of same-sex parents from establishing a legal relationship to their non-biological same-sex parent and place them on equal footing with their opposite-sex parented peers.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 54

Open PDF in Browser Download This Paper

Date posted: April 9, 2012 ; Last revised: September 29, 2014

Suggested Citation

Smith, Catherine E., Equal Protection for Children of Same-Sex Parents (April 9, 2012). 90 Washington University Law Review 1589 (2013); U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-06. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2037519

Contact Information

Catherine E. Smith (Contact Author)
University of Denver Sturm College of Law ( email )
2255 E. Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80208
United States

Feedback to SSRN

Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 1,480
Downloads: 176
Download Rank: 128,199
Footnotes:  199

© 2016 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollobot1 in 0.203 seconds