Last edited: February 14, 2005

Lesbian Mother in Alabama Custody Case Mulls Appeal

Associated Press, March 28, 2002

By Leon Drouin Keith, Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP)—Speaking out for the first time, a mother who lost an Alabama child-custody case because of her homosexuality said she is still deciding whether to go to the nation’s highest court to try to get her children back.

"Presuming that I am an unfit parent simply based on whom I choose to love is wrong," said Dawn Huber, 42, of Los Angeles, whose bid for custody of her three children was unanimously rejected in February by the Alabama Supreme Court.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has drawn protests and criticism from gay rights groups, clergy and the City Council in Birmingham, Ala., for his concurring legal opinion that homosexuality "an inherent evil" and a criminal act that "is destructive to a basic building block of society—the family."

"If a person openly engages in such a practice, that fact alone would render him or her an unfit parent," Moore wrote.

Huber appeared at a Los Angeles press conference with attorney Gloria Allred to denounce the ruling.

"I am not a deviant, nor am I evil," she said. "I am the one who helped my children prepare for their first Holy Communions. I am the one the principal of their parochial school asked to serve as the secretary of the PTA."

Huber hasn’t decided whether to take on the expense of appealing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. That job would fall to her attorney in Alabama, not Los Angeles-based Allred, who sent a letter to President Bush urging him to preclude Moore from consideration for any federal judicial post.

Allred also called on the California Republican Assembly, a grassroots GOP group, to withdraw its 1995 commendation of Moore. But CRA President Dick Mountjoy said, "We wouldn’t even think of it."

"I believe that he’s right in the decision," said Mountjoy, a former state senator. "His moral values are what America’s all about."

Moore’s spokesman, Scott Barnett, did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

Moore publicly defended his concurring opinion for the first time Saturday, saying he is not biased against homosexuals.

"A person is never biased by abiding by the law," he said. "The law in Alabama says that sodomy is against the law."

Attorney John Durward, who represents the father of the children in Alabama, said Moore’s concurring opinion did not reflect the opinions of the entire Alabama Supreme Court and "is not the central issue in this case."

Huber’s attorneys did not ask the court to reconsider its ruling, and the time to make that request has passed, Durward said.

"As far as we’re concerned, the case is over," he said.

Durward said the father has declined interviews and kept a low profile to protect the children. But Huber said she decided to speak publicly because her children asked her to do so.

Huber and her female companion of seven years are registered as domestic partners in the state of California. Her ex-husband left California for Alabama before they divorced in 1992.

Huber was initially given custody of their children, now 18, 17 and 15. But she said that in 1996, at the request of her children, she asked a California court to grant custody to their father.

In 1999—again at her children’s request—Huber sought to regain custody.

A circuit judge in Jefferson County, Ala., ruled for the father, but the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals ruled 4-1 for the mother in June 2001. The appeals court said the father had a history of calling the mother vulgar names in front of the children and of hitting the children.

The appeals court also said there was no indication the mother’s homosexual relationship would be detrimental to the children.

The Alabama Supreme Court said the appeals court impermissibly reweighed the evidence in the case and that the circuit judge was in a better position to evaluate the claims of abuse.

Huber said her children, who visit her during summer and spring breaks from school, want to stay with her. Her oldest child has not yet moved to California because Alabama law considers 19 to be the age of adulthood, Huber said.

The Birmingham City Council denounced Moore’s concurring opinion in a resolution approved last Thursday—the same day the state’s Judicial Inquiry Commission dismissed a bias complaint against the justice filed by a gay rights group.

Moore is known as "Alabama’s Ten Commandments judge" because of his fight to keep a handmade plaque of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom when he was a judge in Gadsden and his decision to place a washing machine-size monument of the Ten Commandments in the State Judicial Building after he became chief justice last year.

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