Denver Rocky Mountain News

Thursday, October 28, 1999

Attorney fights for children of gay couples

Boulder judge grants legal rights to lesbian

By Kevin McCullen
Denver Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer

BOULDER -- An attorney whose legal arguments persuaded a judge to allow the names of a lesbian couple to be on their unborn child's birth certificate filed for similar status in five other cases this week.

Boulder District Court Judge Roxanne Bailin ruled late last month that Colorado law allowed the couple, identified in court documents only as Jane K. and Anne G., to have their names appear on the birth certificate of a child that Anne G. is carrying. The child is due soon, attorney Barbara Lavender said.

Lavender, who represented Anne G. and the Colorado Legal Initiatives Project, hailed the ruling, saying it allows for legal protection of a child. The ruling means the child's non-biological mother can assume parental rights of the child, from signing consent forms for school to retaining custody if the biological mother were to die.

Lavender, who practices family law, said she filed five similar cases and intends to file several more in coming weeks. The other cases do not involve unborn children, but would allow certain legal protections for children living with same-sex couples.

"It's important for estate or inheritance rights. If a child's biological mother dies, the child will not be whisked away from her other parent," Lavender said. "If a couple breaks up, the child would not be obligated just to the biological mother."

But while Lavender and others hailed Bailin's decision, critics said it sanctions same-sex partnerships.

"We believe children are best suited in families with a mother and a father, and that goes along with the mainstream opinion of most Americans," said John Paulk, who works in the public policy section of Focus on Family, the Colorado Springs organization that promotes traditional family values.

"We're disheartened by this ruling and we feel it sets a precedent. It muddies the waters, because gay marriages are not legal in states, and it is a disservice to the child," Paulk said.

Court documents in the case of Jane K. and Anne G. are not open to the public because the matter involves a juvenile. Lavender said she thought of a legal argument nearly two years ago that would, under Colorado law, permit people who have no biological connection to a child to assume parental rights in certain circumstances.

October 28, 1999

Copyright, Denver Publishing Co