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New York Court Expands Rights of Same-Sex Parents; Lesbian Parent Granted Visitation

New York Court Expands Rights of Same-Sex Parents; Lesbian Parent Granted Visitation

New York state has expanded the rights for gay and lesbian parents. New York's highest court ruled in two cases Tuesday that nonbiological parents involved in same-sex relationships have rights similar to those of biological parents. In one case, the court ruled unanimously that a woman can seek visitation rights from her former partner because she is a legal parent, even though she is not the child's biological mother. "In many ways this is a real breakthrough in New York."

New York state has expanded the rights for gay and lesbian parents, according to the New York Times.

New York's highest court ruled in two cases Tuesday that nonbiological parents involved in same-sex relationships have rights similar to those of biological parents. The rulings were limited, but new ground was broken.

One ruling found that the former partner of a woman with a young child was liable for child support, given that the women had been rearing the child as co-parents. The ruling was 4 to 3.

In the second case, which experts said was the more significant of the two, the court ruled unanimously that a woman can seek visitation rights from her former partner because she is a legal parent, even though she is not the child's biological mother. The two women entered into a civil union in Vermont.

"In many ways this is a real breakthrough in New York," Lambda Legal attorney Susan Sommer said of the child visitation case.

"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 New York Times.

"The court today recognized that there are many kinds of families in New York, including LGBT families, and that the children in these families deserve to have their relationship with their parents recognized under the law," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). "Being a parent is about more than just biology. New York's highest court has taken a positive step in protecting all of our families and children." She added, "But no matter what their relationship status is, same-sex couples who have or are contemplating having children should speak with a family law attorney about second-parent adoption. While today's decision is a good step in the right direction, all families need to do everything they can to protect themselves under the law."

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