TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- It's a case gaining national and international headlines. The state of Kansas suing a sperm donor for child support.
How it unfolds in Shawnee County court is being closely watched for its potential implications in areas like gay rights and assisted reproduction.
When William Marotta agreed to donate his sperm to a lesbian couple in 2009, his intentions were just that, to be a donor and nothing more.
Now the state of Kansas is suing him for child support for the little girl born as a result.
Marotta answered an ad in craigslist in 2009 for Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner, now separated, who wanted a sperm donor.
He signed a contract relinquishing all parental rights, including financial responsibilites, to any child born out of artificial insemination. The couple artificially inseminated Schreiner with a syringe in their home, and she became pregnant.
"I donated genetic material and that was it for me. I'm not being held to be a parent," Marotta told 13 News. "I'm not raising the child. I wasn't expected to be paying for child support."
When Bauer's illness prevented her from working, Schreiner applied for government help.
In a court document filed this week, the department for children and families says Schreiner deceived the agency by initially saying she didn't know the donor's name.
She eventually did reveal it, and in October 2012, the agency contacted Marotta for child support.
The Department for Children and Families says Kansas law requires a physician be used for artificial insemination, or else the donor is held responsible.
Marotta says neither he nor the couple was aware of that law.
"The child is theirs, not mine. They're raising her, not me, and so it's almost a non-issue," Marotta said.
He also said he didnt know the couple was not using a physician. In its filing, DCF called that - quote - implausible, since he three times personally delivered sperm to their home, rather than a clinic or doctor's office.
He said the whole case is politically driven.
"There's some issues particularly in the state of Kansas that have to do with same-sex unions."
Marotta said he will stand his ground even if he's the guinea pig for this kind of case, but he fears all the legal fees, not knowing how long this will last.
"If enough noise gets made about it at this point, maybe things will change for the better," he said. "So if I can help bring attention to it and get things changed then so be it."
Marotta has not been in contact with Schreiner or Bauer.
A court hearing originally scheduled for January 8 has been postponed, to give each side time to develop their arguments. The next evidentiary hearing is April 9 and the next June17. Ben Swinnen, the attorney representing Marotta, said the court's decision was "wise and prudent under the circumstances" because the case "raises many difficult and complex issues."
Swinnen and Associates Law Firm filed two documents on Friday, January 4. One, a response to the state's motion to appoint a guardian for the child, and the second, for a motion to protect the identity of the child.
Swinnen said he took the Marotta case because society has changed and alternative family structures are more common than when the statute was adopted in Kansas in 1994. He said this sort of case will likely come up again.
"I believe strongly it's a conversation we should have. So in view of that, I think that this is a good time to have that conversation," he said.