July 2, 2014
In an important win for LGBT families, the New Hampshire Supreme Court today ruled that our client Susan B. is a legal parent to the daughter she brought into the world with her now ex-partner, Melissa D.
In recognizing that “children do best when both parents have a stable and meaningful involvement in their lives,” the Court has now provided twelve-year-old Madelyn B. with the opportunity to be reunited with a parent she’s known her whole life but hasn’t seen in sixteen months.
GLAD and New Hampshire co-counsel Kysa Crusco represented Susan in her effort to establish her legal role as Madelyn’s parent after Melissa, Madelyn’s birth mother, cut off contact between them. (Photo: Susan, center, following April’s Oral Arugment, with GLAD Senior Staff Attorney Janson Wu and Attorney Kysa Crusco, right)
Susan and Melissa decided to bring a child into the world and then raised Madelyn together from her birth in 2002, including establishing a guardianship for Susan, the only legal option available to them at the time. The couple continued to co-parent for over five years after they split up – when Madelyn was six – and Melissa began a relationship with a man she eventually married.
But last March, Melissa had Susan’s guardianship terminated in family court, cut off contact between them, and began proceedings for her husband to adopt Madelyn – essentially attempting to erase Susan from their daughter’s life. When Susan sought help from the family court, that court dismissed her case without even a hearing.
In reversing the family court today, the NH Supreme Court recognized a critical fact: Madelyn has two parents, regardless of what their gender, sexual orientation, or marital status is. The ruling powerfully quotes Susan’s own words in describing their family:
“From the very beginning, Maddie, Melissa, and I were a family. Melissa was the ‘Mommy,’ and I was the ‘Momma.’ Together we were… Maddie’s parents, and Maddie was our daughter. I loved Maddie as my daughter, treated her as my daughter, and saw her as my daughter.”
Because of today’s ruling, Susan will finally have the opportunity to resume her parental role in Madelyn’s life, after over a year of not seeing her daughter. And Madelyn will hopefully be reunited soon with a parent who was ripped away from her after eleven years.
This is not only an incredibly important victory for one family, but for all LGBT families, no matter how those families are formed.