Child Custody and “Gay Divorce”
The following lists of 8 court cases from 8 different states are some of the most recent cases surrounding the issue of homosexuality. Child custody within lesbian relationships is the topic of the first group of court cases. In same-sex relationships procreation by necessity requires the help of medical procedures that are normally not require by heterosexual relationships. Following them is information about Vermont civil unions between same-sex partners, and court cases involving dissolving them outside of Vermont.
Maintaining the status quo that marriage be defined as the union between one man and one woman which has it basis in both the religion and civil domains has stood the test of time and should continue do so until those advocating change are able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that changing it will not harm the society at large. This small sample of court cases often a glimpse of what is surely to follow and only increase by legally sanctioning same-sex relationships.
Only one woman adopted the child. The two women have separated and one of the women is no longer a lesbian.
“Ex-lesbian couple use court in custody, homophobia spat” Washington Post (online) November 18, 2003
“Yet the Denver judge who ordered Dr. Clark in April to avoid exposing her daughter to anything "that can be considered homophobic" placed no speech restrictions on Miss McLeod.
Dr. Clark filed an appeal last month challenging the judge’s order, which came after Miss McLeod complained to the court that Dr. Clark’s church displayed Focus on the Family and Promise Keepers literature in its foyer.” “The appeal also challenges the court’s decision to grant Miss McLeod joint custody. The decision gave Miss McLeod "psychological parent" status, even though she’s unrelated to the child and Dr. Clark is the child’s adoptive mother.
"The point is not that this kind of thing goes on in divorce cases; the point is that these two weren’t married," Mr. Rouse said. "The trial judge has skipped gay marriage and gone straight to gay divorce."”
One woman initially adopted the child, and the following year both women adopted the child while living in Pennsylvania. The women now separated live in Nebraska and Michigan.
“Supreme Court rules lesbian can apply for child custody” DetNews.com (Detroit News online) June 29, 2002
“A lesbian who legally adopted a child in another state is eligible — for now — to apply in Nebraska for custody of that child, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday.
The high court ruled in a case involving Serenna Russell, whose partner, Joan Bridgens, adopted a baby boy in 1996. Russell and Bridgens jointly adopted the boy the next year while living in Pennsylvania.
The couple has since split. Russell lives in Nebraska and Bridgens lives in Michigan with the boy.
Russell asked a Nebraska court to recognize the adoption so she can gain legal custody of the boy and petition Bridgens for child support.”
The two women’s relationship lasted 8 years, and separated when the children were 6 years old. One woman and the children now live in Massachusetts.
“Estranged lesbians battle for custody of twins Courts must decide if egg donor should have parental rights” San Francisco Chronicle (online) December 5, 2003
“It’s a King Solomon tale with a 21st century twist - two women battling in court over the same children. Science says both women are the biological mothers of 7-year-old fraternal twins - one provided the eggs, the other carried the girls to term. And the women raised the twins as a couple until they broke up nearly two years ago. While science sees it one way, the courts see it another and so far have awarded parental rights and custody solely to the birth mother.”
· Vermont civil unions
“Iowa judge causes stir in granting gay divorce” Boston Globe (online) 12/13/2003
“Dissolving civil unions remains a problem for couples who do not live in Vermont. The state law allows couples who live beyond the state’s borders to travel there to be united in a legal civil union. But since other states generally have not recognized civil unions, they have no provision to legally end the unions.
A majority of the 6,569 civil unions performed in Vermont since it became legal three years ago have united couples who don’t live in the state. Just 933 of those unions were granted to Vermonters.
So far, 25 of those couples have dissolved their civil unions in Vermont, according to statistics updated yesterday. The unions can only be legally dissolved in Vermont if one partner has lived in the state for at least a year, and the other partner has lived there at least six months.”
“Iowa judge grants divorce to lesbian couple, then lets oversight stand” CNN.com December 12, 2003
“A county judge approved a divorce for a lesbian couple who obtained a civil union in Vermont, saying he didn’t realize he was signing a settlement for a same-sex couple, but ultimately decided to let his decision stand.”
Mass. court dissolves civil union, citing Massachusetts gay marriage ruling Boston Globe (online) March 25, 2004
“The case ended the civil union of David Salucco of Danvers and Patrick Alldredge, now of Arkansas. The two men were granted a civil union in Vermont on May 18, 2002, but separated four days later and have not lived together since. Stephen Glines Jr., Salucco’s attorney, said his client wanted to legally end the relationship to protect his future assets and to ensure he could get married or enter another civil union in the future.”
· Connecticut, Texas, West Viriginia
“Group fights gays’ ’divorce’” Washington Times (online) December 16, 2003
“Judges in Texas and Connecticut have rejected requests for "divorces" of Vermont civil unions, but a judge in West Virginia has granted one:
•In Connecticut, a trial judge ruled in 2001 that Connecticut had no jurisdiction over civil unions and could not grant a "divorce" to Glen Rosengarten to end his civil union with Peter Downes. The state appellate court upheld the ruling in 2002. Mr. Rosengarten’s appeal to the state Supreme Court ended with his death in 2002.
•In Texas this spring, District Judge Tom Mulvaney granted - and then dismissed - a judgment to end a civil union for Russell Smith and John Anthony. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott intervened in the case, arguing that civil unions were not recognized in Texas. Mr. Smith subsequently withdrew his petition.
•In West Virginia, in December 2002, Marion County Family Court Judge David P. Born ended the civil union of Sherry Gump and Misty Gorman. The decision, which the judge said was a necessary "judicial remedy," was filed Jan. 3, 2003. It was not appealed.”