Child-Support Laws

Extended to Gay Couples

SAN FRANCISCO -- Same-sex couples who raise children are lawful parents, and just like heterosexual couples they must provide for their children if they break up, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The justices ruled for the first time that custody and child support laws that hold absent fathers accountable also apply to estranged gay couples who used reproductive science to conceive.

Being a legal parent "brings with it the benefits as well as the responsibilities," Justice Joyce L. Kennard said. The court's ruling, involving three cases, is the latest to recognize rights of same-sex couples.

The court granted a Marin County woman the right to be the second mother of twins after the birth mother moved out of state. It ruled that a lesbian cannot avoid paying child support for her former partner's biological children. And it decided another woman could not go to court to terminate the parental rights of her former lover years after obtaining a court order stipulating both were parents.

* Beef banned under mad cow disease rules that was shipped to wholesalers in Maryland and five other states is being recalled by Green Bay Dressed Beef of Wisconsin. The 1,856 pounds of beef came from a Canadian cow older than the 30-month limit. There is no indication the animal had mad cow disease, federal agriculture officials said.

* SEATTLE -- Federal agents arrested Charles M. Whitaker, 53, who allegedly threatened to blow up the downtown office of the Department of Veterans Affairs because the agency had denied his claim for benefits.

* HARTFORD, Conn. -- Connecticut became the first state to challenge in court the No Child Left Behind law, saying the centerpiece of President Bush's education law amounts to an unfunded mandate from the federal government. The lawsuit argues that No Child Left Behind is illegal because it requires expensive standardized tests and other school programs that the government does not pay for. It asks a federal judge to declare that state and local money cannot be used to meet the law's goals.

* Undercover investigations on opposite sides of the country resulted in indictments of 87 Asians and U.S. citizens on charges of smuggling counterfeit money, drugs and cigarettes into the United States, law enforcement officials said. Authorities said they seized $4.4 million in high-quality fake $100 bills possibly produced in North Korea, more than 1 billion counterfeit cigarettes -- some from China -- worth $42 million, and ecstasy, methamphetamine and Viagra worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

* BRISTOL, Ind. -- A semitrailer rear-ended a car on the Indiana Toll Road, triggering a crash that killed four people and injured seven. The truck driver, Gil Stanislaw, 56, of Fox Lake, Ill., was charged with four counts of reckless homicide in the deaths of Beverly Zinsmaster, 66, and Phillip Zinsmaster, 69, of Sherwood, Mich.; Joan Auburt, 65, of San Gabriel, Calif.; and Dimitri Karpov, 27, of Mayfield Heights, Ohio.

-- From News Services