By Neal Broverman
Originally published on Advocate.com June 02 2012 2:27 PM ET
New Mexico's highest court reversed a lower court ruling denying parental rights to a gay woman who helped raise and provide financially for her former partner's adopted child.
Bani Chatterjee on Friday was given legal parenting rights to her daughter by the New Mexico supreme court; lower courts said only an opposite-sex partner could be granted rights to a child they raised that wasn't theirs biologically. Chatterjee's former partner, Taya King, adopted a girl from a foreign country, but because of adoption discrimination, couldn't legally adopt the child with Chatterjee. So, while Chatterjee helped raised the girl and provided for her financially, Chatterjee had little recourse after she and King broke up and King took the child to Colorado.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights fought on behalf of Chatterjee; the victory sets an important precedent for gay parents in New Mexico.
"This is a tremendously important decision for our client and for many other families and children in New Mexico who have created stable, loving parent-child relationships that are not based on biology," NCLR Family Protection director Cathy Sakimura said in a statement. "The New Mexico supreme court affirmed that parentage statutes must be applied equally to protect children, regardless of their parents' marital status, gender, or sexual orientation."
Meanwhile, Chatterjee was overjoyed with the decision.
"It is so wonderful for my daughter and me to have our relationship recognized and respected," Chatterjee said in a statement. "After so many years of tension and uncertainty, this will help us all heal and move forward."