Lesbian mom fights former partner and homophobic constitutional amendment. Custody in Ohio is not dependent on marital status.

Lambda Legal is defending a lesbian mother’s relationship with her 11 year-old son against her ex-partner (the biological mother). The bio-mom claims that an antigay constitutional amendment – passed in November 2004 – invalidates the women’s 2001 agreement to share custody of their son.

Therese Leach is fighting 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. When the couple’s relationship ended, Fairchild argued that the Ohio constitutional amendment barring marriages of same-sex couples, passed in January 2005, invalidated the agreement.

“The antigay amendment limiting marriage pertains only to adult relationships – and has no effect on relationships between parents and children,” said Camilla Taylor, Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Office in Chicago.

“Shared custody agreements have protected families – regardless of whether the parents are gay or not, married or unmarried – for 150 years. The other side’s attempt to use an antigay constitutional amendment to rip apart protections that thousands of families have relied on for a century and a half in Ohio is a striking example of the abuses that can result when discrimination is written into the constitution.”

Lambda Legal’s arguments will reinforce that court orders to share custody are not dependent on marital status, and that Fairchild’s argument potentially would put many other Ohio families at risk.

The case is Fairchild v. Fairchild

Image source: LambdaLegal.com

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