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Wisconson Denies Parental Status to Lesbian Mom

By carolyncastiglia |

The Chicago Tribune reported last week that a woman, identified as Wendy, “who raised two adopted children for years in a same-sex relationship is not considered their parent under Wisconsin law,” according to the District 4 Court of Appeals.  The court ruled Thursday that Wendy’s former partner Liz is the only legal parent of the children because their adoptions were processed under Liz’s name.  ”Same-sex couples do not have adoption rights in Wisconsin, meaning that only one of them can be considered the legal parent,” according to the Tribune.

As you can imagine, this decision is crushing for Wendy, who was a stay-at-home mom to the children for seven years.  In response to the judge’s ruling, Wendy said, “I shouldn’t have to fight to parent my kids who I’ve been parenting 24-7.  For me to read in the court documents that I’m not a parent is disturbing and troubling.”  She is considering taking her case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

This ruling is in line with a recent decision by a judge in the UK, who determined the non-biological lesbian mother of a ten-year-old boy is not his legal parent.  It does not, however, follow the precedent just set by the U.S. government allowing the partners of gay biological and adoptive parents who have an in loco parentis relationship with their partner’s child to care for said child under the Family and Medical Leave Act.  The FMLA ruling does not indicate that non-biological gay parents are the legal parents of a child they care for, but that they have a legal right to care for their child.  If gay parents have a legal right to care for a child that is ostensibly their child via the aforementioned in loco parentis relationship, then why, provided that they are responsible and loving parents, is it so difficult for non-biological/adoptive gay parents to be granted the same parental rights after a split?  It just doesn’t make sense.

In the case of Wendy and Liz, they agreed to share custody of the children when they separated, but Wendy felt it was important she be named a legal guardian of her kids.  Without legal guardian status, Wendy would not be able to visit her children in the hospital without Liz’s permission and might not automatically be granted custody of the children in the event of Liz’s death.  As these things go, Liz “initially agreed to the guardianship, but then objected to the petition. A Dane County judge sided with Liz then Wendy appealed.”  Fortunately, despite the fact that Wendy lost the case, she still shares custody under the informal arrangement she has with Liz.

Tamara Packard of gay rights group Fair Wisconsin said of the decision, “It gives the biological or adoptive parent an incredible amount of power and control over the non-biological, non-adoptive parent that can be used in ways that aren’t healthy.  It does underscore the significant handicap that same-sex couples have in forming and safeguarding their families.”

The lesson here, in all of the same-sex custody cases I’ve been following, is that love does not trump the law.  We all, straight or gay, want to trust that the love we have for our partners and their love for us will see us through anything.  For straight couples who conceive a child together, it’s acceptable to wait until a break-up to determine parental rights and responsibilities.  But for gay couples wherein there is only one biological or adoptive parent, it seems increasingly necessary for the other parent to legally solidify his/her parental rights before the relationship goes sour.  It’s sad to have to think about relationships as finite, especially when there are children involved, but as the old saying goes, better to be safe than sorry.  In states like Wisconsin, where same-sex couples have no adoption rights, that may be impossible.

Photo: dbking via Flickr

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About carolyncastiglia



Carolyn Castiglia is a New York-based comedian/writer wowing audiences with her stand-up and freestyle rap. She’s appeared in TONY, The NY Post, The Idiot’s Guide to Jokes and Life & Style. You can find Carolyn’s writing elsewhere online at and The Huffington Post. Read bio and latest posts → Read Carolyn's latest posts →

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2 thoughts on “Wisconson Denies Parental Status to Lesbian Mom

  1. Michael Voisinet says:

    These same sex couples most certainly should not engage in any kind of same sex relationship at all period. Homosexuality is not only contrary to Biblical teachings it is also in direct contradiction of Gods Laws as well. Homosexuality is considered sodomy.

    Sodomy is also in direct contradiction of Gods Laws. A man shall not engage in sexual intercourse with a man. Nor shall a woman engage in sexual intercourse with a woman.

    If you want my honest opinion I think that all same sex marriages should be abolished completely. Those are my sentiments exactly. God has instituted marriage between a man and a woman and the procreation of children.

    And it shall not be violated in any way,shape,or form. What these particular individuals are doing is totally defiling the marriage bed as a direct result of their most despicable acts. What these particular individuals are doing is in not only in direct contradiction of Gods Laws they are also in direct violation of human nature as well.

    If God would have intended for men to totally engage in a same sex marriage he would have created Adam and Steve and not Adam and Eve. In The Catholic Church they always emphasize that same sex couples deserve respect and concern. They also contend that you should hate the sin but love the sinner.

    Sure,we should love and respect these particular individuals. But we must completely refrain from any further association with these particular individuals at all times. Yes,we should love and forgive these particular individuals.

    But we must be completely leery of them each and every time. In The Catholic Church homosexuality is considered a mortal sin. And you most certainly shall not receive The Sacraments if you are in the state of mortal sin.

    If in the event that you do receive The Sacraments while in the state of mortal sin you are most certainly receiving them unworthily. And you are most certainly receiving them under very false pretenses. If you so desire to receive The Sacraments once again you must go to Confession on Saturday Afternoon and confess your sins to God.

    And you must make full amends for what you have done. After you have received full absolution for your sins and are truly repentant of them then you will be deemed worthy to receive The Sacraments and not before. You must fully resolve not to commit the same sins over and over again.

    As the old saying goes:Actions do speak louder than words. Showing that you are truly sorry is much important than the actual words used.

    Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominate sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. It’s psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture,which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

    The number of men and women who have deep seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination which is objectively disordered,constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect,compassion,and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and,if they are Christians,to unite to the sacrifice of the Lords Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

    Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self mastery that teach them inner freedom,at times by the support of disinterested friendship,by prayer and sacramental grace,they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

    Leviticus 18:22:You will not have sexual intercourse with a man as you would with a woman. This is a hateful thing.

    Let us all pray that homosexuality comes to an abrupt end effective immediately.

  2. Jackie says:

    I really feel bad that this has to happen. I grew up with several gay and lesbian friends and family members, and my cousin is having issues with this at the moment… Her partner of 11 years or so has a 13 year old biological son, and he had something happen to him and he went to the hospital. She wasn’t allowed in because she wasn’t “family”, even though she had helped raise him since he was 2. This is just a pity.

    And Michael, please get your bull crap out of here, this is not a religious thing. And the bible was written by men, who tend to bend things to how they want them to be. “God” loves everyone, as I was taught as a child, so he loves the ones he made homosexual, too. I don’t doubt one minute that being gay is innate, it is not a choice. Don’t punish people for being who they are, you wouldn’t punish a person with blue eyes for having blue eyes, would you? If the bible said that freckles were a sin, would you persecute the people with freckles? I don’t think so, so learn how to accept people for who “God” made them to be.

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