Some attorneys claim that if it's known
that the mother is a lesbian, or even
has some association with lesbians, she
will never win custody of her child and
should take whatever she can get out of
court. Others say there have been cases
of an openly gay mother being awarded
custody by the judge in closed session,
but since the records are sealed there
is no way of proving this. (Anyone with
information, please contact us.)
We've all heard the horror stories
and war tales. The mother is awarded
custody, but the court denies her the
right to be in the presence of other
homosexuals when her child is with her.
The courts dictate who the woman must
live with or what kind of home she must
have. Cases have been re-opened years
later and the mother, with less funds
than the ex-husband, has lost the child.
Children have been kidnapped by the
It is important that organized
community support exists BEFORE a
mother needs help in a custody case.
Obviously, it then is much easier to
mobilize funds, forces, and information
to aid the mother and child. More subtly,
if such a group does not exist already,
the publicity necessary to arouse local
sympathizers can be used against the gay
mother, for the courts have said in other
cases that this "subjects the child to
There are some cheering, bright
spots. Off Our Backs, the Wash. D. C.
feminist press, reported some recent
victories last summer. Carol Whitehead
was the first openly lesbian mother to
fight in court in Maine for custody.
She was awarded unconditional custody
of her two children by Superior Court
Justice Harry P. Glassman, whose primary
concern, as stated in his decision, was
"the best interest and welfare of the
In California, a Superior Court
judge ruled that lesbianism was not an
issue to be considered in the custody
of Cynthia Fourcier's two children.
She was cleared of criminal charges
brought against her when she was wrongfully accused of sexually molesting
her 5-year-old daughter.
In Texas, however, there is no
victory for Mary Jo Risher who is
seeking to regain custody of her 10-year-
old son. The three elected judges in
the Court of Civil Appeals decided they
didn't have jurisdiction to decide on
the merits of her case. She will go to
the Texas Supreme Court next to force
11 How do we counsel our kids
when theyre taunted with,
'Your Monrs queer!1"
the lower court to hear the case. These
justices are also elected, as pointed
out in the February issue of Do It Now.
"Thus, 'justice' rests in the hands of
politicians who are homophobic and
reluctant to provide equal protection
of the law for gay people."
To reach the Houston group working
for gay mothers, call 529-0261.
To send contributions for Mary Jo's
fight (she's spent $7,000 on the first
appeal alone)--Friends of Mary Jo Risher,
c/o Dallas County NOW, P.O. Box 12431,
Dallas TX 75225.
Pointblank Times has also received
an urgent appeal for funds for a custody
case involving a politically active
lesbian mother, living and working in a
collective of lesbians. She is being
sued by her wealthy ex-husband, a
university professor with tenure, who
has re-married. He demands custody of
the 5-year-old daughter who wants to stay
with her mother, as she has for the past
four years. Send money to: Lesbian
Defense Fund, P.O. Box 4, Essex Junction
VT 05452; phone: (802) 862-9046.