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Pennsylvania Supreme Court upholds lesbian parent custody ruling

Another landmark case in favor of fairness and equality — being a birth mother doesn’t trump fitness to be a parent, even when the other parent is a lesbian. (Lambda Legal):

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania let stand a lower court ruling awarding custody to Patricia Jones (a lesbian mother) because she would provide a better home than her ex-partner, Ellen Boring (the children’s biological parent).

  “By refusing to hear this case, the Court has effectively affirmed the lower court’s decision that Patricia can provide the best home for her kids,” said Alphonso David, Lambda Legal Staff Attorney who argued the case before the Pennsylvania Superior Court. “Today, the Court has protected the best interests of these children and held them above all else.”

Patricia Jones and Ellen Boring were partners for 14 years. During that time they planned a family resulting in twins and both Jones and Boring took care of them. After the couple ended their relationship 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 of the children 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’ 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 primary physical custody to Jones.  Boring then appealed that ruling, which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court refused to consider.

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Pam Spaulding

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