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)