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ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE ACLU Appeals Decision in Lesbian Custody Case; Challenges Presumption of Unfit Parenthood Based on Lesbian Relationship For IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, November 15, 1993 The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and the ACLU's national Lesbian and Gay Right Project today asked the Virginia Court of Appeals to overturn a lower court decision on behalf of Sharon Bottoms, the 23-year-old Virginia woman who lost custody of her 2-year-old son in September because she is in a lesbian relationship. Filing of the brief sets into motion an expedited review of the case. "The ACLU is representing Sharon Bottoms because we believe that her case raises a critical principle -- that parents be judged according to their parenting ability, not their sexual orientation," said William B. Rubenstein, Director of the ACLU's national Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. Because there was absolutely no evidence that the mother's lesbian relationship had any detrimental effect on the child, the ACLU is asking the appeals court to reverse the trial judge's ruling and restore custody to Sharon Bottoms. "Virginia law has always protected the parent-child bond, but the trial court broke that bond solely because of Sharon Bottoms' lesbian relationsip," said Marc E. Elovitz, staff counsel at the ACLU's national Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. "We trust that the appeals court will review the evidence and reject the trial court's reliance on the cruel and unfounded presumption that lesbians and gay men are unfit parents." Also filed today were three "friend-of-the-court" briefs from national organizations that support Sharon Bottoms' position. The amicus curiae brief from the National Center for Lesbian Rights places the Bottoms case in a national context by examining court cases from around the country on gay and lesbian custody issues and argues that, if upheld, the Bottoms case will be the only one in the nation in which child custody has been given to a third party because of the parent's sexual orientation. NCLR's brief is joined by a host of national gay and lesbian civil rights groups including the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, National Lesbian and Gay Law Association, Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom, NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Women's Law Project, and Northwest Women's Law Center. A brief submitted on behalf of national mental health groups contains a detailed review of the social science research studies which have shown that children with gay parents develop no differently from children with heterosexual parents. This brief is signed by the American Psychological Association, the National Association of Social Workers and its Virginia affiliate, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. A third brief, from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a national organization of domestic relations attorneys, further discusses many of the gay and lesbian custody cases around the country and argues that children are always harmed when custody is taken from the parent. --endit-- ============================================================= ACLU Free Reading Room | A publications and information resource of the gopher:// | American Civil Liberties Union National Office | | "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty"


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