Michigan Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Lesbian Custody Case
By: Shannon Ralph
New Supreme Court news out of Michigan speaks to the very heart of why the fight for marriage equality is so immensely crucial for LGBT people. The Michigan Supreme court has refused to hear a custody case involving two lesbians. The court has indicated that there is no evidence that a review is necessary in the case of Renee Harmon and her former partner of nineteen years, Tammy Davis.
Harmon is seeking custody rights for the three children — 8-year-old twin boys and an 11-year-old girl— she raised with her former partner. Harmon and Davis planned the the children together, and David gave birth to the children through artificial insemination. Michigan adoption law does not explicitly say that same-sex couples cannot adopt, but many adoption judges have interpreted the law to say just that. Because she was unable to adopt the children she raised since birth, Harmon was never a legally-recognized parent under Michigan law.
Harmon began her legal fight in 2009. She was initially granted visitation rights when the couple split in 2008, but Davis then withdrew access. A lower court ruled that Harmon had the legal standing to pursue her custody case, but the Michigan Court of Appeals disagreed. Her legal team filed an appeal in October 2010 for the state Supreme Court to review the case. Since the appeal was filed, the make-up of the bench has flipped from majority Democrat to majority Republican. The court ruled 4-3, strictly along party lines, not to hear the case with scathing dissents written on the part of the Democrats on the bench. Harmon has not seen her children for two years.
These types of stories outrage me. Laws are supposed to protect our children. How can it possibly be in the best interest of those three children to be taken away from the parent they have known since they were born? Harmon and Davis were together for 19 years and decided to start a family together. Together. Had they been allowed to marry, there would be no question about the validity of Harmon’s parentage. Sadly, Harmon’s plight is not unique. It happens every single day. Gay parents are considered dispensable. Their rights to the children they bring into this world and love with all of their hearts are superfluous. If we are to be a nation that truly cares about the well-being of our children, we have to provide marriage equality to all. We must put all families on equal legal footing so that children can grow up secure in the knowledge that their parents will always be there for them. To do otherwise harms no one more than it does the truly innocent among us, our children.
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