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Woman uses same-sex marriage ban to try to cancel custody agreement

Woman uses same-sex marriage ban to try to cancel custody agreement

The constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Ohio should prevent a woman from seeing her former partner's 8-year-old son, the boy's mother is arguing in domestic relations court. Denise Marie Fairchild's lawsuit asks the court to cancel Therese Marie Leach's visitation rights. The boy, conceived through artificial insemination, was born while the women were still a couple. The ban on same-sex marriage, which Ohio voters approved on November 2, denies legal status to all unmarried couples, gay or straight. It's also been cited in a Cleveland court case in which a judge was asked to declare the state's domestic-violence law unconstitutional. Fairchild said she voted against the ballot issue. "I realize I am using a piece of legislation that will deny me rights later in my life. But before I am a lesbian and a member of the gay community, I am his mother," she said. At Fairchild's request, the Franklin County domestic relations court gave Leach parenting rights in 2001, saying the women "shall be treated in the law as two equal parents of their minor child." They sought the agreement so Leach could make medical decisions for the boy in Fairchild's absence, Fairchild said. The agreement is not valid, according to Fairchild's lawsuit, because it was written before a 2002 Ohio supreme court decision that gave the domestic relations court the power to determine custody. Keith Golden, Fairchild's attorney, says Leach shouldn't be considered a parent under Ohio law because of the ban on same-sex marriage. "Marriage is the closest [Leach] comes to being a parent. However, the Ohio constitution doesn't recognize same-sex partnerships" as marriage, he said. A message seeking comment was left Friday for Leach's court-appointed attorney, Thomas Schmidt. Leach does not have a listed telephone number. Fairchild, 41, said she and Leach, 46, dated for eight years before the boy was born and they broke up three months later. In the Cleveland case of a man charged with slapping his live-in girlfriend, a Cuyahoga County common pleas judge said he wouldn't decide whether the amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions makes the state's 25-year-old domestic-violence law unconstitutional. The judge denied the man's request because the domestic-violence charge was filed before the marriage amendment passed. At least 11 similar requests have been made on behalf of people charged with domestic violence in the Cleveland area. (AP)

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