New York Court Rulings Expand Rights for Gay Parents

By Ben Fractenberg on May 4, 2010 4:20pm | Updated on May 5, 2010 6:37am

Elizabeth Medina-Turner (l.) and her partner Sharon Antonia Turner feed each other cake following a Wedding Party ceremony to kick off the Gay Pride march in New York City.
Elizabeth Medina-Turner (l.) and her partner Sharon Antonia Turner feed each other cake following a Wedding Party ceremony to kick off the Gay Pride march in New York City.
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Kathleen Voege/Getty Images

By Ben Fractenberg

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — Gay couples with children have some of the same rights as biological parents, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled in two cases Tuesday.

In a unanimous 7-0 decision, the court decided in one case that a non-biological mother who entered into a civil union in Vermont is entitled to seek custody of and have visitation rights with the couple’s child.

"This is a terrific outcome for our client and her 6½-year-old son," lawyer Susan Sommer told the New York Times. "New York has recognized the legal parent-child relationship established after this couple entered into a civil union in Vermont." 

In the other ruling, the court found 4-3 that a woman could seek child support from her former same-sex partner even though she is not a biological parent of the woman’s child.

Gay and lesbian couples cannot legally marry in New York, but the state does recognize civil unions preformed in other states.

The rulings, though, are limited and leave it up to New York’s Legislature whether to give non-biological parents in a same-sex relationship full custody rights.

“It is a narrow victory that will help the children of couples who marry or enter civil unions, but it will not help the children of parents who don’t,” American University law professor Nancy Polikoff told the Times.

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