Lambda Legal Disappointed In Ohio Supreme Court Ruling Against Lesbian Mother in Long-Disputed Custody Case

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“This decision is a tragedy for the child”Šthe court disregarded the overwhelming evidence that Ms. Mullen agreed to parent Lucy with Ms. Hobbs ‘in every way.’”
July 12, 2011
Christopher Clark

"This decision is a tragedy for the child, above all else."

(Chicago, IL, July 12, 2011) Today, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled against Michelle Hobbs, a lesbian mother who sought custody of her child in a case disputed since December 2007. Today, a closely-divided court ruled 4 to 3 in favor of the claim by Ms. Mullen, the biological mother, that Ms. Hobbs has no parental rights and responsibilities for the daughter they jointly raised from birth.

"This decision is a tragedy for the child, above all else," said Christopher Clark, Senior Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Office in Chicago. "The court disregarded the overwhelming evidence that Ms. Mullen agreed to parent Lucy with Ms. Hobbs 'in every way.' Regrettably, the decision severs a parent-child relationship between Lucy and the person she knows to be her mother. All Ohio families should be alarmed by this, as a child with a non-biological parent could be taken from their mom or dad in the event of a separation."

Michelle Hobbs and Kelly Mullen were in a committed relationship for five years and decided to have a child together. When their relationship ended, Mullen, the biological mother, denied Hobbs any contact with her daughter. A motion by Hobbs for joint custody was granted by a magistrate judge, overturned by a juvenile court, and an appellate court upheld the reversal. In February 2011, the Ohio Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case.

"The majority's decision today is the last step in this saga, and sadly, the best interests of Lucy will never have been considered at any level. Instead, Mullen's self-interest will be the sole determining factor," said Hon. Justice Paul Pfeifer in his dissenting opinion. "Besides Hobbs and Lucy, common decency is another victim in this case. Mullen was able to use the law as a weapon because same-sex coparents lack legal rights."

For more information about this case, In the matter of L.K.M., see Lambda Legal’s case page.

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Contact Info

Contact: Erik Roldan; 312-663-4413 x359; eroldan@lambdalegal.org

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

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