Ruling in Mother-Grandparent Dispute Could Affect Lesbian and Gay Families

Lambda urges case-specific approach that leaves room for diverse families

Date

Date: 
07/10/2001

(LOS ANGELES, July 10, 2001) — A California child visitation dispute between a mother and her child’s paternal grandparents does not involve lesbian or gay parents, but it still has important implications for their families, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund said Tuesday.

On Thursday, July 12, at 1:30 p.m., the California Court of Appeal will hear argument in Butler v. Harris. Myron Dean Quon, deputy regional director of Lambda’s Western Regional Office and author of Lambda’s amicus brief in the case, will be available for comment after the hearing.

Lambda urges the court to resolve the dispute with a case-specific analysis that allows respect for diverse families, rather than a rigid formula.

“As the most recent figures from the Census indicate, the American family is evolving, with more same-sex households than ever before,” said Quon, continuing, “Protecting these families, including the children in them, means focusing on real parent-child relationships rather than imposing narrow rules that make legal rights dependent on biological ties or using broad rules that allow outsiders to intervene in family life.”

Karen Butler, mother of a six-year-old girl, is seeking termination of court-ordered visitation for her daughter’s grandparents, Charles and Leanne Harris. But Butler misinterprets last year’s United States Supreme Court decision in Troxel v. Granville as a rigid ruling that makes parents’ rights absolute.

As Lambda points out in its amicus brief, Troxel, in fact, urges state courts to apply a case-by-case analysis to visitation disputes involving those who are not legal or biological parents. In this dispute, Lambda discourages a ruling that would create an absolute parental veto against grandparents visitation rights under any circumstances. Such a ruling would not take account of the complexities of family life and in other contexts could hurt gay and lesbian families.

Lambda is the oldest and largest legal organization dedicated to the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, and people with HIV and AIDS. In addition to its regional office in Los Angeles, Lambda has regional offices in Chicago, and Atlanta and a national headquarters in New York. It will open an office in Dallas in 2002.

WHAT: Hearing in Butler v. Harris WHO: Lambda WRO Deputy Regional Director Myron Dean Quon, author of Lambda’s amicus brief, will be available for comment after the hearing. His cell phone number is 213-324-5051. WHERE: California Court of Appeal, 750 “B” Street, Suite 500, San Diego, California WHEN: Thursday, July 12 at 1:30 p.m. PDT

(Butler v. Harris, No. D036144) — 30 —

 

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