Friday, July 23, 2004

This burns my ass!

A little girl trumps ideologyBy Diane Carman Denver Post Staff Writer
To protect her, the little girl at the heart of this controversy is called "E.L.M.C."
She was born in China and adopted in 1995 by Dr. Cheryl Ann Clark, who was living with Elsey Maxwell McLeod.
The women, who by law could not marry, held a commitment ceremony and bought a home. When they decided to adopt a child, they traveled to China together to meet her, and when they returned to Colorado, they shared the responsibility for her care.
E.L.M.C. calls Clark "Momma." She calls McLeod "Mommy." They are the only parents she's ever known. As the Colorado Court of Appeals judges explained in their unanimous ruling last week, "This case illustrates the evolving nature of parenthood."
It also illustrates the evolving nature of the law in this country, which began 228 years ago today with a grandiose declaration of equality - despite the fact that for the next 100 years, children, women and slaves had little more standing in an American court of law than your average plow horse.
But E.L.M.C. was not mere property. She was the center of the legal debate.
Her mothers, Clark and McLeod, had lived together for 11 years. When they split, it got ugly. Clark joined a Baptist church and renounced her homosexuality. She also sought to limit McLeod's contact with E.L.M.C.
But Denver District Judge John Coughlin ruled and the appeals court unanimously affirmed that E.L.M.C.'s well-being must come first.
"McLeod meets even the most stringent definition of a psychological parent," the appeals court ruled. Her gender, they said, "is not relevant."
Neither is her sexual orientation.
"The court said there is a compelling state interest here in protecting children and their relationships with psychological parents," said attorney Heather Hanneman, who wrote a brief in support of McLeod. "It's inherently emotionally harmful to allow the legal parent to disrupt that relationship."
She said it would apply in cases where a grandparent, a relative or a friend of the family reared a child for an extended period of time, only to have a legal parent suddenly insist that the relationship must end. And it clearly asserts the rights of psychological parents in same- sex relationships.
For gays and lesbians, "it's significant," Hanneman said.
Especially in light of what is happening this summer in Washington.
Congressional leaders are determined to bring the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage to a vote even though support isn't there.
They are doing it to make a point - a religious statement - at the expense of people like E.L.M.C.
As Rep. Marilyn Musgrave of Colorado, sponsor of the amendment, told the congregation at Jerry Falwell's church in Virginia last year, "Many people think Christians should be quiet in the public square. ... But I don't agree with that."
Prohibiting gay marriage is an act of faith for her. She's on a mission.
So is the Rev. Fred Phelps, a Baptist minister from Kansas who openly preaches hatred of homosexuals.
All this relates to the second part of the case involving E.L.M.C., the part in which McLeod asked the court to order Clark not to expose the child to religious teachings that are "homophobic."
The definition was unclear, the appeals court said. It could mean Clark taking E.L.M.C. to listen to Musgrave preach in Falwell's church or to attend a demonstration with Phelps carrying a sign saying, "God hates fags."
The justices asked for a clarification. "Further proceedings consistent with this opinion" were ordered.
But here, too, the message is unambiguous: This is not about politics. It's not about religion. The interests of E.L.M.C. and others like her remain paramount.
Narrow interpretations of the family and who is qualified to love a child are gradually - blessedly - becoming things of the past.

What really gets me going is that in most states a FATHER can't get this kind of consideration from the court.
I have little else to say about this, except that it makes me very angry to see a court fighting for the rights of a NON-parent, when it won't fucking recognize the rights of a father in the raising of a child.

When they say they are not trying to make a political statement, you should always perk up your ears for the inevitable political message to follow. in this case I see the message as:
Gay parents have far more rights to shared custody than straight men. Straight men are icky and mean. Straight men cause wars and do bad people are great...blahblahblah.
Stepping off of the soapbox now.


At 24/7/04 10:08 AM, Blogger Anathematized1 said...

I don't keep up much on custody rights after a divorce and the statistics of father vs mother. But, I'm figuring that this might improve that situation by leaps and bounds if people take appropriate action by using it as a stepping stone to further their cause.

I sort of agree with you about the straight male's role in custody suits. I know of some people where the mother DEFINATELY should have not gotten the child(ren).

I disagree with the fact that I am not sure they are stating that same sex couple's are more important. It was just an article that wound up being printed due to a particular case. It was about the dissolution of that specific family unit, and it was probably written and published for some sensationalistic reason. It's the newest topic of debate on the horizon - requiring legal precedent and foresight because a HELL of a lot more of this is going to be happening in the future, and it's the kids' emotional health and proper legal procedure that have to be analyzed in order to come to a "correct" decision.

Though we all know the government is not the best at making decisions for the populace as a whole.

At 24/7/04 10:24 AM, Blogger Contagion said...

Actually reading this, I think this is pretty consistant with prior legal president in the US. Courts tend to side with Women over Men in a custody battle. When you have two women, the courts breakdown and don't know where to go. So now you see this. I'm wondering how different this situation would be if it was two guys. I personally think this is more a gender issue then a sexual preference issue.

At 25/7/04 12:34 AM, Blogger Anathematized1 said...

I swear I've seen something before where there were two gay men fighting over custody rights of an adopted child. It made no sense to me at the time because I would think only ONE of the men would have adopted the child and would therefore be the one in possession of sole custody over that child. But I am pretty sure the court ruled that separation from both "parents" would cause the child psychological harm and they set up some funky joint custody arrangement between the two parents.

Maybe I'm smoking crack, or this was on some tv show, it was a year or three ago. I just remember it because I would figure LEGALLY the child would go to the person whose name was on the adoption papers, and since two MEN can't adopt a single child at the same was the issue???

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