WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) – A Winter Haven couple is still fighting for equality, despite being legally married. Viktoria Gerth-Stephenson and her wife Rebecca waited for more than a year until they finally heard the words they were pregnant.
“Right before we got married, we found out we were pregnant and expecting. It was really exciting,” Rebecca Stephenson said.
Her wife Viktoria decided to carry the baby. The couple successfully became pregnant through a fertility clinic.
“His name is going to be Maverick. We picked it out,” Viktoria said. “We joke around, like in ‘Top Gun,’ and say I’m momma goose, and he’s Maverick,” she laughed.
Shortly after the couple found out they were going to have a boy, they found out there was a catch. “When it comes to Maverick, I have absolutely no right over him until the adoption process is over. I have to adopt my own child,” Rebecca said.
The couple has to go through a process known as a stepparent adoption. Otherwise, Rebecca’s name will not be on the birth certificate. The process costs between $2,500 to $5,500 “even though we already spent money on the fertility costs,” Viktoria said.
So, as the couple nears their due date, their minds are on something else: What if something happened to Viktoria? “He would literally be taken away from me,” Rebecca said of her son.
The process for same-sex couples if far different from that of straight couples.
“Even if the mother was carrying a different man’s child, the husband in the marriage, by law, is considered the father in the State of Florida,” Attorney Christopher Roy, with Roy and Amico Law Group, said. “There are insurance issues, government issues, that are out there. Things still haven’t been cleaned up in the State of Florida.”
Until then, couples like Viktoria and Rebecca will keep fighting. “I want it to be recognized as this is the child’s parents. It should not be matter what body parts you have,” Rebecca said.
Two Florida lawmakers introduced bills to amend the law and allow both same-sex spouses on the birth certificate. Their proposals did gain enough traction in this last legislative session.
Other states moved to allow both same-sex spouses on the ballot as they legalized same-sex marriage..