William Marotta answered an ad on Craigslist from two lesbians who were looking for a sperm donor to conceive a child and, out of altruism, he said, gave the Kansas women donations for free and waived all his parenting rights.
But the District Court of Shawnee County Kansas ruled Jan. 22 that Marotta must pay back the state $4,000 in public assistance that it provided for the now 4-year-old girl, along with child support.
Marotta, a 47-year-old machinist from Topeka, said he had a written contract with the two women, and should not have to pay. He is appealing the ruling, which legal experts say is a first.
“I was a donor and [they] were the parents,” he told Topeka station WIBW. “We had a contract, and I said I am not going to be part of it and don’t ever intend to be part of it. They don’t want me to be part of it.
“Two people wanted to have a baby and couldn’t do it by themselves, so I assisted – that’s about it. [The state] is undoing a family.”
The state, on behalf of the Kansas Department for Children and Families, filed a lawsuit May 24, 2013, that asked for summary judgment against Marotta because the couple had not complied with a state law that required sperm donation be done under the supervision of a doctor.
The lawsuit cites a provision of the Kansas Parentage Act, KSA 23-2208(f), which states: “The donor of semen provided to a licensed physician for use in artificial insemination of a woman other than the donor’s wife is treated in the law as if he were not the birth father of a child thereby conceived, unless agreed to in writing by the donor and the woman.”
Marotta’s lawyer, Ben Swinnen, said Kansas law needs to be updated to reflect same-sex families and their use of sperm donation. He said the ruling was “politically motivated” in a state that has a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage.
“I feel we have reason to appeal,” Swinnen told ABCNews.com. “The court dismissed 90 percent of the arguments we made without so much as a line about it. The court also ignored all the other jurisdictions that sided with this brief. Many cases around the nation have tackled this issue one way or another.”
The Kansas Department for Children and Families did not want to comment on the case but provided this prepared statement to ABCNews.com: “We appreciate the judge’s careful consideration and attention to the law. The Kansas Department for Children and Families has maintained that KSA 23-2208(f) makes clear that individuals must go through a licensed physician in order to avoid the financial responsibilities associated with parenthood. The court and law support this position.”
Swinnen said that the women did not want to use a doctor for sperm donation.
“For reasons personal to them, they wished to have a child together,” he said. “They looked up sperm banks and got the cold shoulder from a physician. They were being judged. … Nobody was aware of the statute.”
Joseph W. Booth, the lawyer for the two women, who are referred to as A.B. and J.L.S. in the lawsuit, was not available to immediately comment on case.
According to the judge’s ruling, the couple had been in a “committed relationship” and in March 2009 placed an ad for a private sperm donor. They met Marotta and gave him a sperm donor contract that had been “downloaded from the Internet.”