Thursday, September 29, 2005


This Pennsylvania ruling is incredible on many levels.
In a groundbreaking ruling in support of the rights of gay and lesbian parents, a court in Pennsylvania on Tuesday said the lesbian partner of the biological parent of twins should have primary custody of the children. The decision, by the superior court, upheld a lower court ruling that Patricia Jones would provide a better home than her ex-partner, Ellen Boring, even though Boring is the biological mother of the twins. "We believe that the record supports a finding by clear and convincing evidence that the best interests of the children are served by granting primary physical custody to Jones, for a number of reasons discussed in the trial court's opinion," a unanimous three-judge panel stated in its opinion.
Jones and Boring were partners for 14 years. During that time they planned a family, resulting in twins for whom both Jones and Boring served as caregivers. After the couple split up in 2001, the trial court found that Jones had parental rights to the children and awarded joint custody to both mothers, giving primary physical custody to Boring. Later Jones filed for primary physical custody, citing Boring's history of contempt in observing the visitation schedule set by the court and her attempts to unilaterally remove the children from Pennsylvania. The court found "convincing reasons" that being in Jones's custody would be in the best interest of the children and awarded her primary physical custody. That ruling was appealed by Boring, contending that as she was the children's biological mother and former primary custodian, the children could not be removed from her custody without a finding she is unfit, a very high standard. The superior court of Pennsylvania found that argument to be invalid and upheld the lower court's decision to grant custody to Jones.
It is in state and lower level courts that the future of gay and lesbian family law is being decided, on a case-by-case basis. It's always nice to see judges prevent a vindictive parent from using their children to punish the other parent, although in this case it's extra special.

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