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Court awards
custody of boy to deceased mother's lesbian partner

Court awards
custody of boy to deceased mother's lesbian partner

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West Virginia's highest court on Friday gave custody of a 5-year-old boy to his dead mother's lesbian partner, despite the protests of the woman's blood relatives. Tina Burch had appealed to the West Virginia supreme court for custody of the son of her partner, Christina Smarr, who died in a 2002 car accident. Within hours of her death, Smarr's relatives had given the child to his grandparents. A family court gave custody to Burch, but a circuit court ruled that she didn't have the legal rights to her former partner's child. Jim Douglas, Burch's attorney, argued that the boy's biological father, who was not involved in the child's life, supported the idea of Burch's having custody. "Both of the child's biological parents not only acquiesced in, but actively fostered, the relationship," justice Robin Davis wrote in the majority opinion. The opinion stated that a "psychological parent" could be a biological, adoptive, step, or foster parent, as long as the parental relationship began with the consent of the legal parent or guardian. The American Civil Liberties Union praised the ruling, saying it is the first time the court has recognized a gay person's right to be declared a "psychological parent." An attorney for the grandparents did not immediately return a phone message Friday. (AP)

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