MIAMI, February 8, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) - In what could become a landmark decision, a Florida judge has ruled that a 23-month-old girl can have three people listed on her birth certificate as her parents.
Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Antonio Marin approved a settlement between a lesbian couple, Maria Italiano and Cher Filippazzo, who were legally "married" in Connecticut, and Massimiliano Gerina, a homosexual who donated sperm for Italiano to become pregnant.
Under Florida law, a sperm donor for artificial insemination has no paternity rights.
However, Gerina claimed that in the verbal agreement he entered into with the lesbian couple when they asked him for his sperm thathe assumed he would be able to participate in the life of the child he fathered.
“They asked me,” Gerina told The Miami Herald. “I was flattered by it. I thought what a great opportunity for me to have a baby.”
The women, he claimed, “wanted a father for the baby, not just the sperm.”
Two weeks after being artificially inseminated with Gerina's sperm, Italiano learned she was pregnant. The lesbians planned that Filippazzo would adopt the baby and they would both raise the child under the designation of "parent 1" and "parent 2."
About seven months into her pregnancy, Gerina said the women called him and asked him to sign a contract relinquishing any rights to the child.
“When they gave me the paper to sign that I had to give up all my rights to the baby, I didn’t,” Gerina said.
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Instead, Gerina hired a lawyer and filed a lawsuit claiming paternity rights.
“My papers said I would have parental rights, a visitation schedule,” Gerina said. “They hated it. They said this wasn’t what they wanted. I said, ‘Now that you’re already pregnant, you should have thought about that before.’ ”
“The paternity lawsuit was filed right after the birth of the child,” said Gerina's lawyer, Karyn J. Begin. Emma was born March 10, 2011.
A trial was set for January 31. However, a week before the hearing the lesbian couple and the homosexual father settled their dispute privately.
With Judge Marin's approval, Filippazzo has legally adopted Emma, and she, with birth mother Italiano, now have "sole parental responsibility" for the little girl.
Judge Marin ordered that the state recognize Gerina as the father and grant him twice-weekly visitation rights.
“We’re creating entirely new concepts of families," said Begin.
"If you have two women seeking to be listed as Parent One and Parent Two, that does not exclude listing a man as father,” she said. "There are three parties involved. I agree that makes the case unique."
The lesbian couple's lawyer, Kenneth Kaplan, said, "People have to understand, the case is really a second-parent adoption, meaning that there are not three equal parents.”
"There are three involved but there are two people who have sole parental responsibility," Kaplan said. "Under Florida law, they make all the decisions for the child. This is an adoption by two women, with him receiving certain rights."
“The mothers are in charge," said Gerina. "They are the parents, I’m just going to spend time with her.”