Appeal Rejected In Gay Parenting Case
by 365Gay.com from the Web, July 1, 2004
Denver, CO -- The Colorado Court of Appeals Thursday ruled that a lesbian mom retains co-parenting rights after a breakup with a child's primary parent.
The case involved an eight year old girl who was adopted by Cheryl Clark as an infant.
The couple then fought to win a court decision giving Clark's partner, Elsey McLeod, joint parenting rights.
But, when Clark, a Denver doctor, converted to evangelical Christianity she declared herself to be straight and ended the relationship with McLeod.
Denver District Judge John Coughlin awarded Clark custody of the child with McLeod being granted visitation rights.
Judge Coughlin in awarding custody also ordered Clark to prevent the child from receiving any homophobic religious teachings.
Clark appealed the ruling on the grounds that since same-sex relationships were illegal in Colorado McLeod should have no parental rights.
She also appealed the restriction on what religious education the child should receive claiming the ruling was too broad.
The appeals court upheld Coughlin's ruling on co-parenting but returned the religious education issue back to his court to see if an equitable solution could be reached.
"We are extremely pleased that the Court of Appeal recognized the importance of protecting children's relationships with both of the people who have functioned as their parents," said Courtney Joslin, staff attorney at the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
The NCLR filed a "friend of the court" brief on behalf of McLeod.
"It is outrageous that loving, devoted parents have to fight so hard for their right even to appear in court and ask for visitation with their own children," Joslin said.