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active cases

Pending (Florida)

Florida Department of Children and Families v. M.J.H.
V.A., a lesbian who lives in Florida with her partner, has been raising a baby boy, E.L.A., since nine days after he was born. He was placed with V.A. in part because she is a relative. After Florida’s Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) terminated the parental rights of E.L.A.’s birth mother, V.A. applied to adopt E.L.A.

 

Victory! (California)

Charisma R. v. Kristina S.
Charisma R. and Kristina S. were in a committed relationship for 6 years. They decided to have children together, and Kristina gave birth to their child in 2003. They started a baby journal and sent out a joint birth announcement. Charisma and Kristina cared for their child together, and Charisma provided the primary care after Kristina returned to work. When their child was only a few months old, Kristina abruptly left their shared home and refused to allow Charisma to have any contact with their baby.

 

Pending (Ohio)

In re J.D.F.
T.L. and D.F., a lesbian couple, planned to have a child together. D.F. gave birth to their child, J.D.F. In order to protect the child’s relationship with both parents, the couple entered into a court-approved joint custody agreement.

 

Victory! (California)

Charisma R. v. Kristina S.
Charisma R. and Kristina S. were in a committed relationship for 6 years. They decided to have children together, and Kristina gave birth to their child in 2003. They started a baby journal and sent out a joint birth announcement. Charisma and Kristina cared for their child together, and Charisma provided the primary care after Kristina returned to work. When their child was only a few months old, Kristina abruptly left their shared home and refused to allow Charisma to have any contact with their baby.

 

Victory! (California)

Smith v. Quale
Kim Smith and Maggie Quale are two women who were in a committed romantic relationship for over two years. They held a commitment ceremony before family and friends in January 2008. They decided to have children together and, after they were unable to get pregnant using sperm from a sperm bank, they ended up using a friend’s boyfriend as a sperm donor. Kim and Maggie paid the donor $540 for his sperm from their joint bank account. They had twins, and raised them together for approximately six months before breaking up.

 

Victory! (Iowa)

Johnson v. SooHoo
Marilyn Johnson and Nancy SooHoo raised two children together while living in Minnesota. When the couple broke up, Johnson unilaterally cut off contact between SooHoo and the children. The Minnesota Supreme Court held in 2007 that SooHoo was a person “in loco parentis” who had a parent-child relationship with the children, and found that it was in the children’s best interest to have visitation with SooHoo, whom they called “mommy.” In 2008, Johnson moved the children to Iowa and later filed a petition in Iowa in an attempt to end SooHoo’s visitation with the children.

 

Victory! (California)

Benitez v. North Coast Women's Care Medical Group
Guadalupe "Lupita" Benitez was denied infertility treatment by her Southern California healthcare providers because she is a lesbian. The trial court rejected the doctors’ claim that they do not have to follow California’s anti-discrimination law because they have religious objections to serving lesbian patients.

 

Victory! (Iowa)

Johnson v. SooHoo
Marilyn Johnson and Nancy SooHoo raised two children together while living in Minnesota. When the couple broke up, Johnson unilaterally cut off contact between SooHoo and the children. The Minnesota Supreme Court held in 2007 that SooHoo was a person “in loco parentis” who had a parent-child relationship with the children, and found that it was in the children’s best interest to have visitation with SooHoo, whom they called “mommy.” In 2008, Johnson moved the children to Iowa and later filed a petition in Iowa in an attempt to end SooHoo’s visitation with the children.

 

Victory! (Florida)

L.E. v. K.R.
L.E. and K.R. are a female couple who had two children together in Washington. Each partner gave birth to one child, and each adopted her non-biological child through a second-parent adoption in Washington. The couple moved to Florida, and their relationship ended several years later. They entered into an agreement and successfully shared equal custody and visitation with both children until K.R. broke the agreement.

 


closed cases

Victory! (Inter-American Human Rights Commission)

Karen Atala Riffo v. Chile
On May 31, 2004, a Chilean Court ordered Karen Atala Riffo, herself a judge in Chile, to relinquish custody of her three children to her estranged husband because she is a lesbian and living with her female partner. The Supreme Court of Chile based its decision on the long-discredited and unsupportable notion that being raised by lesbian parents is harmful for children. With no legal recourse left in Chile, Ms. Atala took her case to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IAHCHR) in Washington, D.C.

 

Victory! (California)

Adoption.com
Represented by NCLR and the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Michael and Rich Butler, a San Jose couple, filed a lawsuit challenging the discriminatory policies of the for-profit websites Adoption.com and ParentProfiles.com after these businesses refused to post their profile online solely because they are a same-sex couple.

 

Partial Victory (New York)

Debra H. v. Janice R.
Debra H. and Janice R. were a same-sex couple living in New York who planned to have a child together and entered a Vermont civil union. After Janice gave birth to a child conceived through alternative insemination, Debra and Janice lived together and parented their child together for over two years.

 

Victory! (California)

Application of A.W.
L.W. and K.R. raised their child, A.W., together from the time that K.R. gave birth to him. After the couple split up, L.W. became the child’s sole caregiver. L.W. obtained a parentage judgment from a California court establishing that she is A.W.’s legal parent. L.W. is disabled and receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. The Social Security Act provides benefits for the children of people who receive SSDI, and L.W. applied for A.W. to receive benefits as her child. A.W.’s application was initially denied because the Administration refused to recognize L.W. as his parent.

 

Victory! (California)

Angela G. v. D.W.
Angela G. and D.W., a lesbian couple, had a child together in 1998. After the couple separated, D.W. arbitrarily cut off all contact between Angela and the child, forcing Angela to file for custody.

 

Loss (Kentucky)

B.F. v. T.D.
B.F. and T.D., a lesbian couple, were in a committed relationship for seven years. When their attempts to get pregnant were unsuccessful, the couple decided to adopt. Because the availability of second parent adoptions is unclear in Kentucky, only T.D. adopted the child. For the next six years, the couple raised their child together. After the couple separated, however, T.D. cut off all contact between B.F. and the child, forcing B.F. to file for visitation.

 

Victory! (Virginia)

Katherine Anne Fisher Davenport et. al v. Deborah Little-Bowser et al.
The ACLU of Virginia sued on behalf of four children adopted by same-sex couples after the Virginia Department of Vital Records refused to issue new birth certificates listing both of the children's adoptive parents. The children were born in Virginia, but adopted by same-sex couples in the District of Columbia and New York. NCLR assisted Professor Joan Hollinger, one of the nation's foremost scholars on adoption law, in filing an amicus brief supporting the children's right to obtain accurate birth certificates.

 

Victory! (California)

Elisa B. v. Superior Court
Elisa and Emily had twins together while they were in a committed relationship. One of the twins has Down Syndrome and requires round-the-clock medical care. After Elisa and Emily separated, Elisa, the non-biological mother, stopped visiting the twins or providing any financial support.

 

Victory! (Maryland)

Hedberg v. Detthow
In June 2005, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled that gay father Ulf Hedberg, must be given an opportunity to challenge a custody restriction prohibiting him from living with his same-sex partner.

 

Loss (Utah)

Jones v. Barlow
In a decision issued on February 16, 2007, the Utah Supreme Court reversed three decades of Utah case law holding that courts may protect children's relationships with non-biological parents. Keri Jones and Cheryl Barlow had a child together in Utah using alternative insemination. After they separated, Barlow tried to keep Jones from having any contact with their child.

 

Victory! (Pennsylvania)

Jones v. Boring
Ellen Boring and Patricia Jones had twin children together in the context of a long-term committed relationship. When the couple separated, Boring tried to cut off Jones' contact with the children. After hearing extensive evidence, a trial court awarded custody to Jones. Boring appealed, arguing that she automatically should be given custody because she is the birth mother.

 

Victory! (California)

Donna Jones, et al. v. San Joaquin Community Hospital
When Donna and Sharolyn brought their 9-year old daughter to the emergency room, hospital staff refused to honor the daughter’s request to have both mothers with her and even physically blocked Donna and Sharolyn from trading places so that Donna could comfort their daughter.

 

Victory! (California)

K.M. v. E.G.
A lesbian couple, K.M. and E.G., had twins together through ovum-sharing, with an egg removed from K.M., fertilized in vitro, and implanted in her partner E.G. The couple raised the twins together for several years. When the couple separated, however, E.G. (the birth mother) refused to allow K.M. (the genetic mother) to see the children.

 

Victory! (California)

Kristine H. v. Lisa R.
Kristine H. and Lisa R. had a child together using alternative insemination. Before the child was born, they petitioned a court to issue an order declaring both women to be the child's legal parents. When the couple separated a few years later, however, Kristine challenged Lisa's parental status and tried to prevent her from having any right to custody or visitation.

 

Victory! (Washington)

In re Parentage of L.B.
Sue Ellen Carvin and Page Britain were in a committed relationship for 12 years. They had a child and raised her together for six years. After the couple separated, Britain cut off all contact between Carvin and the child.

 

Loss (Maryland)

Margaret K. v. Janice M.
Margaret K. and Janice M. adopted a daughter during their committed relationship of 17 years. Because they adopted their daughter from India, which does not allow unmarried couples to adopt, only Janice adopted the child, but she and Margaret raised their daughter together. When their daughter was 7, Margaret and Janice separated, and Janice refused to allow Margaret to see their daughter.

 

Loss (Virginia)

In a custody dispute between A.S., a lesbian mother, and her ex-husband, the trial court denied custody to A.S. and also prohibited A.S.’s partner from spending the night in the house while the children were visiting. A.S. appealed the custody and visitation order.

 

Loss (Virginia)

R.S. v. A.S.
In a custody dispute between A.S., a lesbian mother, and her ex-husband, the trial court denied custody to A.S. because of her sexual orientation and also prohibited A.S. from having overnight visits with her children when her partner is spending the night in the house.

 

Victory! (California)

Sharon S. v. Annette F.
Sharon and Annette were in a committed relationship for many years and had two children together. Annette completed a second-parent adoption of the older child and was in the process of adopting the younger when the couple separated. Sharon, the birth mother, tried to block the adoption by arguing that second-parent adoptions are not permissible under California law.

 

Victory! (West Virginia)

Tina B. v. Paul S.
Tina B. and Christine S., a lesbian couple, lived together for many years and had two children together. When Christine died, Christine's parents tried to obtain custody of one of the children, over Tina's strong objection.

 

Victory! (Florida/Colorado)

Wood v. Wood
NCLR represents Hannah Wood in a Florida child custody case against her former partner, Courtney Wood. Hannah and Courtney had a child together using alternative insemination. After the couple separated, a Colorado court granted Hannah visitation with the couple's daughter.

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