FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | May 5, 2004
(San Francisco, CA, May 5, 2004) — The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere (COLAGE) today praised the Washington Court of Appeals' decision holding that a lesbian co-parent can seek custody or visitation with a child that she jointly brought into the world and raised with her former partner.
Sue Ellen Carvin and her former partner Page Britain were in a committed relationship for 12 years. They had a child together in 1995 and raised her together for 6 years, until the couple separated in 2001. During this time, Carvin was the child's primary caretaker. After their separation, Britain cut off all contact between Carvin and the child. When repeated efforts to work out a voluntary settlement failed, Carvin brought a lawsuit seeking custody or visitation. The Washington Court of Appeals held that Carvin had standing to seek parental rights such as custody or visitation based on her established parental relationship with the child.
"We are relieved that the court held that Sue Ellen Carvin's relationship with her child must be given some protection," said Courtney Joslin, NCLR Staff Attorney. "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."
"As children of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents working to achieve legal recognition, protection, and social respect for ourselves and our families, we are heartened by the Court's decision," said Beth Teper, COLAGE Executive Director. "For a child, enduring the anxiety of parents breaking up is bad enough, but to have to undergo the trauma of having to fight for legal recognition and protection of her relationship with her parent adds to the injury."
Carvin is represented by the Northwest Women's Law Center. NCLR and COLAGE filed a friend-of-the-court brief on her behalf.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.
COLAGE is a youth-driven, constituent-based national organization offering support, education and activism by and for people with LGBT parents. Our mission is to engage, connect and empower people to make the world a better place for all children of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents and families. For more information about COLAGE, visit www.colage.org or call 415-861-5437.