Nebraska Court Upholds Lesbian Custody Decision

Nebraska’s Court of Appeals has upheld a lower-court ruling that stated “a parent’s sexual activity is insufficient to establish a … change in custody.”

In 1995, Thomas Hassenstab filed a suit to reverse Carol Hassenstab’s custody of their child after the divorce. Ms. Hassenstab is a lesbian. The court said there was no evidence that her child was “adversely affected or damaged” by her sexual orientation, and that she will keep custody.

Nebraska ACLU Executive Director Matt LeMieux said there was “nothing spectacular” about the decision, because the judges “applied the law in an equal, fair, and just manner. There is no reason why parents in a gay or lesbian relationship should be treated differently under Nebraska’s custody laws.”

One of the three judges dissented, saying that “Carol’s conduct will necessarily impair [her child’s] moral training” because her lesbianism conflicted with her Catholicism. LeMieux said that under that “preposterous” reasoning which “could have set a dangerous precedent,” a Catholic parent “who believes abortion is wrong…but is pro-choice could have his or her child taken away because of the pro-choice stance.”


GLINN - October 2, 1997

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