Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Court allows gay mother to keep child:

Friday, the West Virginia Supreme Court overturned a Circuit Court ruling by refusing to take a five-year old boy from his lesbian mother. After the boy’s biological mother died in a car accident in 2002, the mother’s family sought to get custody of the child and have the boy taken away from the mother’s partner.

A trial court sided with the partner and awarded her primary custody, with visitation rights to the grandparents. That ruling determined that the partner was the child’s “psychological parent” – one who, while not related to a child biologically or through adoption, has functioned as a parent in every way. West Virginia appeals courts have recognized psychological parents in the past, but never involving gay couples.

However, the grandparents appealed and the Circuit Court reversed the trial judge’s ruling, deciding to remove the boy from a parent he had lived with since birth. The Circuit Court refused to apply the psychological parenthood doctrine in the context of a gay couple.

Friday, the court reversed the Circuit Court ruling and returned custody to the biological mother’s partner, the first time that the high court has recognized the standing of a gay or lesbian parent to seek recognition as a psychological parent.

The court’s opinion said a “psychological parent” could be a biological, adoptive, foster or stepparent, as long as the parental relationship began with the consent of the legal parent or guardian. “Both of the child’s biological parents not only acquiesced in, but actively fostered, the relationship,” Justice Robin Davis wrote in the majority opinion.

The boy’s biological father, who was not involved in the child’s life, supported the mother’s partner having custody of the child.

The ACLU, which had intervenor status in the case, praised the ruling, stating, “The Court, in its wisdom and compassion, has recognized Tina … the surviving parent of a little boy who has already lost one of his mothers.”

Damn straight.

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