April 4, 2016 at 5:00 pm EDT | by Steve Charing
Md. appeals court to hear parental rights case
parental rights, Conover v. Conover, hate crime, gay news, Washington Blade

In Conover v. Conover, lower courts ruled that Michael Conover, who is a transgender man, is not legally a parent of his son.

Maryland’s Court of Appeals will hear arguments on April 5 in an appeal that tests whether Maryland law will give full recognition to the families of LGBT people. Maryland’s parental recognition law has remained unsettled for same-sex couples, even as Maryland established civil marriage equality for same-sex couples in 2012 and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last summer in favor of marriage equality nationwide.

In the case being argued on Tuesday, Conover v. Conover, lower courts ruled that Michael Conover, who is a transgender man, is not legally a parent of his son. Before Conover’s gender transition, he and his female partner had a child by artificial insemination of his partner. They married after marriage equality became legally recognized for same-sex couples, but the lower courts have ruled that Conover is a legal stranger to the child he raised from birth.

Conover is represented by attorneys with recently merged FreeState Legal and Equality Maryland, the state’s advocacy organizations for the civil rights of the LGBT community.   

“We’re looking forward to making our case to the Court of Appeals that it needs to revisit our state’s parentage law in the era of marriage equality and put all Maryland families, whether headed by same-sex or opposite-sex couples, on an equal footing,” said Jer Welter, deputy director and managing attorney for the merged organizations and one of the attorneys representing Conover, in a statement.

The Court of Appeals, which hears arguments in Annapolis, is Maryland’s highest court.  Its seven judges decide appeals from courts throughout Maryland in cases raising important and unresolved legal issues. The court agreed to hear the Conover case in December 2015. A decision in the case is expected before the end of the Court’s current term in August.

More information about the case is available at freestatelegal.org.

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