Court ruling allows both members of Manitoba LGBTQ2s+ couples to be legally recognized as parents
WINNIPEG -- Seven Manitoba couples are celebrating a significant victory in their bid to be recognized as parents.
A Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench judge has ordered that non-biological parents, due to conceiving through assisted reproduction, will not need to go through an adoption or declaration process. Under the law, only the biological parent was recognized as a legal parent.
The current Manitoba Family Maintenance Act that requires this process has not been updated since 1987, with the law impacting members of the LGBTQ2S+ community who rely on reproductive technologies to start a family.
Courtney Maddock and Jill Stockwell, who married in Morden in 2010, were among the parents challenging the law. Two years ago, their daughter CJ was born with the assistance of in-vitro fertilization.
Under the law, Stockwell, who was the non-biological parent, would have to adopt her own daughter to be recognized as a parent.
“That was another costly hurdle that I would have to go through in order to actually be CJ’s mom,“ said Stockwell.
“We wanted to change that so people in families like ours, and situations like this, where there is no other biological parents there, could have two parents recognized, instead of having one adopt.”
Robynne Kazina, one of the lawyers representing the couples, said the legal status of parents could be very important.
“It can be important to make medical decisions, in the event of one parent, unfortunately, passing away, or in the case of a separation, it really provides that certainty to children, and the certainty they deserve, which is afforded to all other children, and they shouldn’t be denied that based on the circumstances of how they came into this world,” said Kazina.
“I think, when we entered into this, we didn’t look at it from that perspective,” said Stockwell. “We were trying to fix something for our family.
“I know we’ve had a number of people reach out to us since the court case was filed, and since we were victorious yesterday, who said what a difference it’s going to make in their lives.”
Manitoba now has 12 months to amend the legislation so it aligns with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Other provinces, including Ontario, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia, have already made changes to their laws.
-With files from CTV's Jon Hendricks and Glenn Pismenny.