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Gay Couples Journey for Equal Rights to Children

CINCINNATI (Angenette Levy) -- A married, same-sex couple has taken extraordinary steps to ensure they have equal rights to their twin sons.

Knox and Wyatt just celebrated their first birthday with their mothers:  Amanda Broughton and Michele Hobbs.  Broughton and Hobbs were married in Massachusetts in 2011. They decided to have children and in 2012 Amanda gave birth to the twins. Since the State of Ohio does not recognize their marriage, Amanda had full parental rights to the boys while Michele had no rights.

"I cannot make any legal decisions regarding them if they were not my sons or if I didn't have legal guardianship of them," Hobbs said.

It was imperative that Hobbs have full parental rights because of her past experience. She and a former partner had a daughter. When the relationship ended so did Hobbs' contact with her daughter. She appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court which determined she had no legal rights to Lucy despite being labeled as a co-parent on artificial insemination documents.

"Very painful. To this day, it's very painful," Hobbs said.

To ensure that couldn't happen again Hobbs adopted Wyatt and Knox. She couldn't adopt them in Ohio without Broughton giving up her parental rights to the boys. They took the unusual step of traveling to a southern state where the laws on same-sex adoptions are vague.
"I don't have to worry about me making decisions if there is something in an emergency where in the past I couldn't have done that," Hobbs said.

Hobbs and Broughton have spent thousands of dollars on the legal process for Hobbs adopting the twins.  Hobbs is still not listed as a parent on the boys' birth certificates. But, Hobbs and Broughton hope a lawsuit filed by four same-sex couples that are expecting children could lead to that. The couples have asked a federal judge to name both parents on their children's birth certificates.

"I really hope that this sets precedent for other same-sex families in the future to be able to have the names on the birth certificate," Broughton said.

Ohio has banned same-sex marriage since 2004.

Attorney Al Gerhardstein is representing the four couples. He successfully convinced Federal Judge Timothy Black to list a same-sex couple in Ohio as married on a death certificate last year.

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