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Sign of the Times: Tennessee Judge: Gay Couples Have Equal Parental Rights

NASHVILLE – Same-sex couples in Tennessee have the same rights as heterosexual couples who have children born through artificial insemination, a judge ruled.

Four married lesbian couples sued after the state passed a law that requires using the “natural and ordinary meaning” of words in state law. Gay rights groups said the requirement was a sneaky way to deny same-sex couples the legal rights and protections granted to a “husband,” a “wife,” a “father” or “mother.”

Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle’s dismissed the couples’ lawsuit on Friday, saying they didn’t prove their rights had been violated, The Tennessean reported . Each of the four couples has conceived a child using a sperm donor and the first baby is not expected until September.

Still, the couples heralded the ruling as a victory because it will give them equal parental rights when the children are born.

“We have a Tennessee court order saying same-sex couples are to be treated the same as opposite-sex couples,” said attorney Julia Tate-Keith, who represented the couples.

The decision comes about a month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex couples who believed an Arkansas law discriminated against them. Under that law, married lesbian couples had to get a court order to have both spouses listed as parents on their children’s birth certificates.

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