Annual Update 2009 - Parenting Docket

Document Date: July 20, 2009

> Annual Update 2009 – Parenting
> In re: Gill – Case Profile
> Cole v. Arkansas
> Chandler v. Barker

Foster Parenting and Adoption

Litigated against anti-gay adoption and foster parenting bans and decisions

Jennifer Owens and Sheila Cole – plaintiffs in our challenge to the Arkansas adoption ban – with Sheila’s granddaughter, who they hope to adopt.

Arkansas: Filed challenge to law enacted by the voters in November 2008 that bans unmarried couples from serving as adoptive or foster parents

Florida: Won trial court ruling overturning Florida’s ban on adoption by gay people; successfully used this fifth AC LU challenge to the ban to get out our twin messages that (1) the evidence shows that children raised by gay people do just as well as those raised by heterosexuals, and (2) this ban is harmful to at-risk kids

Georgia: Successfully represented lesbian mother against criminal contempt charges filed against her by judge who had denied her petition to adopt a close friend’s daughter

Michigan: Represented co-parent of three Illinois-adopted daughters in custody case; family court ruled that neither parent could enforce her rights as parent in Michigan because that would violate the Michigan Constitution’s amendment that recognizes only unions between a man and a woman; on appeal

Texas: Lesbian couple who were foster parents seeking to adopt five siblings, some with developmental disorders, were before a judge who ruled that the siblings should be “re-broadcasted” as adoptable children for other potential families; we helped transfer case to new judge in another county who approved the adoption

Fought against discriminatory parenting measures in state legislatures and elections

The Kelley-Estes family, who are plaintiffs challenging Act 1, the newly passed Arkansas adoption ban.

Arkansas: Worked with local organizers in unsuccessful effort to defeat ballot initiative that bans unmarried couples from serving as adoptive or foster parents

Tennessee: Successfully lobbied against proposed bill to ban adoption by LGBT couples

Custody & Visitation

Tennessee: Challenged local court rule that all divorce agreements involving children include the following provision: “Any paramour of either parent to whom a parent is not legally married is not to spend the night in the presence of or in the same residence with any minor child of the parties.” (pending)

De Facto Parenthood

Maryland: Filed friend-of-the-court brief before the state high court arguing for the non-adoptive parent’s bid for recognition as a “parent-in-fact” in a child custody dispute between lesbian former partners (unsuccessful but considering legislative fix)

Missouri: Filed friend-of-the-court brief before Court of Appeals, arguing for the right of a lesbian to be treated as a parent in a custody case involving her former partner’s biological child

Montana: Represented non-adoptive lesbian parent in custody dispute over two children, eight and four, adopted by her former partner when they were a couple; District Court confirmed the rights of the children to maintain relationships with both parents after trial in which expert testimony, for the first time in a same-sex de facto parenting case, was introduced on the significance of dual parenting to children’s development

Virginia: Represented lesbian non-biological mother seeking visitation with child she raised jointly with her former partner; Court of Appeals refused to recognize her parental rights

Second-Parent Adoptions

Maine: Worked with GLAD on amicus strategy for case seeking joint adoption rights for unmarried couples; helped persuade Maine Supreme Judicial Court to grant joint adoption rights

Michigan: Worked to pass bill making it clear that two unmarried persons can jointly adopt children (and thus specifically allowing for second-parent adoptions) (pending)

Nebraska: Unsuccessfully lobbied for legislation to enable second-parent adoptions

Nevada: Worked with child welfare professionals on legislation to permit second-parent adoptions

North Carolina: Helped North Carolina State Senator Julia Boseman in her case for joint custody of her adopted son with her ex-partner, his biological mother; helped persuade ex-partner to drop class action effort to invalidate all second-parent adoptions by same-sex couples; now assisting Boseman against ex-partner’s efforts to invalidate her second-parent adoption

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