Linda Perdue

Lambda Legal's Fight for Parental Rights

Filed By Linda Perdue | November 20, 2005 5:40 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement

(Franklin County, Ohio, November 17, 2005) --- Lambda Legal is defending the rights of a lesbian mother to have a relationship with her son against an attack by her former partner (the biological mother) who is using Ohio's antigay constitutional amendment banning marriage between same-sex couples to claim the custody agreement they entered into is invalid.

Lambda Legal represents Therese Fairchild in her fight to enforce 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. Since the couple split, Denise Fairchild has refused Therese contact with her son
and is using the constitutional amendment banning marriage between same-sex couples, which passed in November 2004, to argue that the custody agreement is invalid.

"Both women agreed to share custody to protect their son against just this kind of separation," said Camilla Taylor, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal's Midwest Regional Office in Chicago. "The constitutional amendment in question pertains to relationships between two adults --- not the relationship between a parent and her child."

Lambda Legal's brief, filed with the court late yesterday, argues that the custody agreement Therese and Denise entered into was valid when they signed it and continues to be valid today. The constitutional amendment raised in this case is directed at relationships between unmarried adults of the same sex and shouldn't be applied to relationships between parents and children.

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