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Ruling Enhances Parental Rights
When Anthony and Shawn Raftopol, a gay married couple from Massachusetts, hired a Connecticut surrogate to give birth to their child, they didn't expect to figure in a landmark ruling by the Connecticut Supreme Court.
But after the surrogate gave birth to twins, the state Department of Health refused to issue a birth certificate bearing both men's names as the legal parents. Instead Shawn, who had no biological connection to the twin boys, was told by the agency that he would have to go through a second parent adoption to be listed on the birth certificate.
That is until Fairfield lawyer Victoria Ferrara took up the case. And, after the court ruled in favor of the men's challenge, if two partners have a valid surrogacy agreement here in Connecticut, they now can legally have both names put on the birth certificate. That establishes both as the legal parents prior to the child's birth.
"It's not really a gay-rights law," Ferrara said during a recent interview in her Post Road offices. "It's an important ruling for straight couples as well."
In this case, Ferrara said the lower court ruled in favor of the Raftopols. "The state asserted the only way (for both to be named parents) was through the adoption process and appealed the ruling," she said. It never made it to the state Appellate Court, however, because the Connecticut Supreme Court decided it would hear the case.
The Supreme Court started questioning why the Department of Health had refused to put Shawn Raftopol's name on the birth certificate, Ferrara said, something it had been doing as a matter of course until about four years ago. "That's when they started to object, and I'm not really sure why," Ferrara said. "I was surprised because it didn't make sense to me"