New York court expands rights of same-sex parents
May 04, 2010 at 11:38 am
As reported by Jeremy W. Peters for The New York Times:
"New York State’s highest court ruled in two cases Tuesday that nonbiological parents involved in same-sex relationships have rights similar to those of biological parents.
"But the court limited its rulings, ultimately leaving it up to the state Legislature to decide whether to amend state law to grant nonbiological parents full custody rights.
"In one case, the court, the Court of Appeals found that a woman is entitled to seek child support from her former partner, who is not the biological mother of a child the couple raised together before they separated.
"The ruling was 4 to 3.
"In the second case, which experts said was the more significant of the two, the court ruled that a woman can seek visitation rights from her former partner because she is a legal parent, even though she is not the child’s biological mother. The two women entered into a civil union in Vermont.
“'In many ways this is a real breakthrough in New York,' said Susan Sommer, who argued the case before the Court of Appeals and is senior counsel and director of constitutional litigation for Lambda Legal, a legal advocacy group.
"The ruling was 7 to 0 that the nonbiological parent, referred to in court documents as Debra H., had parental rights. The court recognized the woman’s legal status as a parent because her relationship with the biological mother was legally established through the civil union.
"But some legal experts said they were dismayed that the court did not go a step further and establish the parental rights of nonbiological parents who are not [in] legally recognized relationships."
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