Last edited: April 28, 2005

Ouster of Gay Partner ‘Negative’

Associated Press, January 31, 2005

By Tom Stuckey

ANNAPOLIS—A court ruling forcing a homosexual father’s partner to move out of the house where the father is raising his 12-year-old son “has been so negative for the child in so many ways,” the father’s attorney said yesterday.

“It’s very upsetting to the child. He wants his father’s partner to be able to move back in, and they can just resume their normal family life,” said Shannon Minter, attorney for [the Father. Names removed at the request of Lambda Legal.]

Mr. Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, filed a brief with the Court of Special Appeals yesterday, asking the court to dissolve a Virginia court order prohibiting [the partner] from living in the house with [the Father] and his son.

“The son just misses the partner very much. He had been living with them 5½ years from about 4 to 9½. It’s very upsetting to the child,” Mr. Minter said.

According to court papers, after [the Father] and the boy’s mother, [the Mother], separated in 1996, [the partner] moved in with the father and son. Three years later, the two men bought a house together, and [the partner] played an active role in raising the boy.

But in 2000, when the mother moved to Florida, she sought custody of the boy. A judge in Alexandria awarded joint legal custody to the parents, but gave [the Father] primary physical custody with the condition that [the partner] move out of the house.

The two men then moved to Montgomery County and rented separate apartments. [the Father] filed suit in Montgomery County Circuit Court to dissolve the Virginia court order, but the lawsuit was dismissed.

[The Mother] is opposing the move to dissolve the Virginia order, but “has no objection to the father and her son living in Maryland” and is not seeking to alter the custody judgment, said her attorney, Patrick Stiehm.

“She is satisfied with the way things have gone to this point. She sees no reason for making that one particular change,” Mr. Stiehm said.

He would not elaborate on why [the Mother] does not want the order prohibiting [the partner's] living with her former husband and her son changed.

Mr. Minter said that because of the additional financial burden of maintaining two households, [the Father] and [the partner] had to sell the Virginia house and moved to smaller apartments in Maryland.

“The father has lost the tremendous benefit of having a second person on the scene to help with chores and dinner and caretaking, so he’s been able to spend less time with the child,” Mr. Minter said.

Two national homosexual rights organizations—Lambda Legal and National Center for Lesbian Rights—are supporting [the Father's] lawsuit.

“This child’s world was turned upside down all because a Virginia court issued a knee-jerk, anti-gay custody restriction,” said Susan Sommer, supervising attorney at Lambda Legal. “He lost his home, his school, his park and, most importantly, the proximity of the caring adult who has helped raise him.”

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