Okay, here’s an odd story, perhaps. The Alliance Defense Fund, the same religious right legal group that is representing Steven Williams in his lawsuit against the Cupertino School District (the group that sent out the utterly dishonest “Declaration of Independence Banned from Classroom” press release), is also representing a woman who was in a lesbian relationship before the Utah Supreme Court in a custody battle with her now ex-spouse. Cheryl Barlow and Keri Jones were a lesbian couple for quite some time. They made the decision to have a child and Barlow underwent artificial insemination. 5 months into the pregnancy, the two women went to Vermont and were joined in a legal civil union there, which is not enforced in Utah. The child was born and had the surnames of both mothers on her birth certificate. Jones was also given legal guardianship along with Barlow. For the first two years of the child’s life, they were both mothers to the child and shared all parental duties. But now Barlow says that she is no longer a lesbian and now has religious objections to her child being exposed to her still-lesbian former partner.
The trial judge ruled that Jones did have the right to visitation with the child, and also had the responsibility to pay child support, which is fine with her. His ruling was based upon several other court rulings and longstanding law on child rearing relationships that are in loco parentis, that is where someone performs the role of a parent to a child without a biological or legal relationship with them. It’s not at all unusual for a stepfather or stepmother who has had a longstanding parental relationship with a child to be granted visitation rights, for the obvious reason that disrupting parental relationships is often unhealthy for the child. Presumably, the ADF would not be opposed to this in all circumstances, but since this involves a gay person, to hell with consistency.
The appeals court in Utah upheld the lower court ruling, by the way, and the ADF is now appealing to the Utah Supreme Court. I hope they lose that one as badly as they’re gonna lose the Steven Williams Case. This child had a two year relationship with both mothers. To remove that bond just because one of them has changed their mind is very unhealthy for the child.