Lesbian Mom Goes to Pennsylvania's Highest Court for Visitation Rights

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Lambda argues case: Monday, September 10, 9:00 a.m.
September 6, 2001

(NEW YORK, September 6, 2001) -- Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund is urging Pennsylvania's highest court to affirm a ruling that a lesbian mother who raised a child with her former partner for three years from birth may seek visitation with her daughter despite the biological mother's objection.

The women, identified by their initials to protect the privacy of the child, were in a long-term relationship and planned to raise the child together. After their breakup in 1996, when their daughter was three, L.R.M., the biological mother, refused to allow T.B. visits with their daughter, despite T.B.'s parental role in the child's life.

On Monday, September 10, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear argument in T.B. v. L.R.M.; Lambda Senior Counsel Patricia M. Logue will argue on behalf of T.B. and will be available for comment.

"This child should not have a loving parent ripped from her life for no good reason," Logue said. "These women planned for this child together; T.B. cared for her on a daily basis, fed and diapered her, comforted her when she was sick, and helped raise her for the years the family lived together," she said, adding, "Biology cannot trump the best interests of this child."

The court is examining whether non-biological lesbian and gay parents can have the right to continue their parental relationship with their children under Pennsylvania's in loco parentis doctrine, which has long safeguarded bonds between de facto parents and children.

In 2000, the en banc Superior Court unanimously held that T.B. is a de facto parent and that her former partner cannot claim that her biological ties to their daughter, A.M., give her the absolute right to determine who will be in A.M.'s life.

Previously in 1997 the Court of Common Pleas had determined T.B. had in loco parentis status and a right to visitation, and the court had ordered visitation.

Roger D. McGill of the firm of Smorto, Persio, Webb & McGill in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, is co-counsel. Amicus briefs were submitted by the ACLU and 54 other organizations, including the National Association of Social Workers, the National Center for Youth Law, and the Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights.

WHAT: Oral argument before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in T.B. v. L.R.M.
WHO: Lambda Senior Counsel Patricia M. Logue will be available for comment after the hearing
WHERE: Pennsylvania Supreme Court, 414 Grand Street / 801 City-County Building, Pittsburgh
WHEN: Monday, September 10, 9:00 a.m.

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

(T.B. v. L.R.M., No. 62 WAP2000)

Contact: Peg Byron 212-809-8585 x 230, 888-987-1984 (pager); Patricia M. Logue 312-663-4413 x 30


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