Utah Supreme Court Refuses to Give Lesbian Parental Rights to Former Partner’s Child

By John-Henry Westen

  SALT LAKE CITY, February 20, 2007 ( - The Utah Supreme Court issued a ruling Friday in a troubling case where a former lesbian who had entered into a civil union was involved in a bitter custody battle with her ex-partner over her biological child.  The biological mother of the child became a Christian and left the homosexual relationship but the other woman sued for rights to the child.

  The Utah Supreme Court ruled in the case of Jones v. Barlow and denied the unrelated woman any parental rights over the child of her former partner.

  The Utah Supreme Court presented the final resolution to this long battle by concluding that "the common law doctrine of in loco parentis [in the place of a parent] does not independently grant standing to seek visitation against the wishes of a fit legal parent." Both the trial and appeals court had previously ruled that Keri Jones should have visitation with Cheryl Barlow’s biological daughter.

  Jones and Barlow were living together in Utah when they traveled to Vermont and entered into a civil union. The two women were still living together when Barlow gave birth following artificial insemination in 2001, but ended their relationship in 2003. Barlow is now a Christian.

  Liberty Counsel, a public interest law firm, is currently defending two separate cases on behalf of biological mothers whose lesbian former partners are trying to obtain parental rights over the mothers’ objections.

  Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: "The Utah Supreme Court has made a common sense ruling. Other courts should follow suit and put an end to the needless tug of war over innocent children. Permitting unrelated individuals to share parental rights with the real parent undermines the family. Every court should protect the right of a biological mother to direct the upbringing of her children without interference from a nonparent, former same-sex partner."

  See the full ruling online here:

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