Supreme Court Leaves Lesbian Visitation Rights Intact

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday upheld lesbian’s rights to child visitation by refusing to hear the appeal of a Massachusetts decision establishing that a lesbian who helped her partner raise a child became a “de facto” parent entitled to visitation rights when the two women separated.

Two women, identified as LM and EO, signed a “co-parenting agreement” when LM had a son through artificial insemination in 1995. When the two women separated in 1997, EO filed for visitation rights and the case was heard before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The state court ruled that “It is to be expected that children of nontraditional families, like other children, form parent relationships with both parents, whether those parents are legal or de facto.”

The U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the appeal does not establish any legal precedent. Other states such as New York and Florida have ruled against granting visitation rights to lesbians or gay men who separate and have children.

The issue of lesbian’s or gay men’s child visitation rights remains subject to state-by-state rulings, and currently, no state recognizes a homosexual partnership as a marriage.


AP - November 16, 1999

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