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Santa Cruz Lesbian Custody Dispute


A Santa Cruz, Calif., lesbian couple are embroiled in a custody dispute over two children, and a sperm donor has become part of the equation.

NBC Bay Area has reported that Kim T. Smith has sued for joint custody of the twin boys whom she and Maggie Quale had agreed to raise. Quale has become romantically involved with Shawn Wallace, the sperm donor for the twins, and they now plan on raising the boys together. Quale and Wallace seek to exclude Smith from custody of the children, who share the hyphenated last name Quale-Smith.

Representing Smith, Deborah Wald of the National Center for Lesbian Rights calls the case "a very dangerous precedent for lesbian couples having children with the assistance of known sperm donors" if custody is not awarded to Smith.

Quale's attorney Darlene Kemp, however, maintains that "it's being turned into something political, when it's not that at all. It doesn't have anything to do with sexual orientation. She doesn't meet the criteria of a presumed parent." Indeed, the couple never registered as domestic partners with California although the twins' birth certificate lists both women as parents.

Quale and her lover seek to make clear that "supporting me in the fight does not mean you're opposed to supporting non-biological parents in same-sex unions" on a Facebook page and website intended to attract public support and financial help in paying legal fees.
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