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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ohio Supreme Court Allows Lesbian Custody Decision to Stand

The Supreme Court of Ohio last week let stand an appeals court ruling affirming the enforceability of a court-approved child custody agreement in a case involving lesbian mothers.

“The Court has expressly shut down arguments that Ohio’s antigay amendment impacts parenting and child custody relationships, rights, and responsibilities,”said Camilla Taylor, Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Office in Chicago. “The Court correctly declined an invitation to treat gay and lesbian Ohio parents differently from other families, and to deprive the children of these families of the protections and support other children receive.”

Lambda Legal represents Therese Leach in her fight to uphold a court-approved joint custody agreement signed by both her and her former partner, Denise Fairchild, in 2001. After their son was born in 1996, both women parented him. In order to ensure that Therese had a protected legal relationship with the child, the two women signed a joint custody agreement. Such agreements were approved by the Ohio Supreme Court in the 2001 In re Bonfield case in which Lambda Legal participated.

The Supreme Court decision comes after Fairchild argued, at a trial court, and the Ohio Court of Appeals for the Tenth District, that Ohio’s antigay constitutional amendment limiting marriage to a man and a woman invalidated the court approved custody agreement she originally sought with Leach. All three courts brushed aside Fairchild’s arguments, ruling that court-approved custody agreements cannot be ignored or unilaterally undone by one of the parents. In July 2008, Fairchild asked the Ohio Supreme Court to hear her case, and Lambda Legal urged the Court to refuse. Today’s order from the high court is the final word on the matter.

Source: Lambda Legal

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