Lesbian mom granted ‘husband’s rights’ and shared custody in landmark case

A woman can be given a ‘husband’s rights’ to a child when a same-sex couple settles custody, according to a judge in Tennessee.

Knoxville, Tennessee couple Erica and Sabrina Witt wed in 2014 and Sabrina later had their daughter with the help of a sperm donor.

Erica never obtained formal adoption papers, which led the judge to initially rule she had no legal right to custody — the legal definition of ‘husband’ did not apply to her.

Fourth Circuit Court Judge Greg McMillan could only give her the rights of a stepparent at first, saying: ‘I believe this is a situation where she has no biological relationship with this child, has no contractual relationship with this child.’

But after an uproar from the community and activist groups, the judge reversed his decision on 11 May and granted the couple joint custody after their divorce.

This is the first case of its kind, according to Erica’s attorney, who requested the judge interpret ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ as ‘spouse’ and ‘spouse’ in the Witts’ case.

Tennesee law is tough on LGBTI custody


Kathrine Guthrie and family are fighting against Tennessee legislation

The ruling comes days after four expecting lesbian couples in Tennesee launched a lawsuit against the state for its new law requiring state legal codes be interpreted by their ‘natural and ordinary’ meanings.

The Witt case actually goes against this new regulation, which requires judges to apply the ‘traditional’ definition of ‘husband’ and ‘wife,’ ‘mother’ and ‘father,’ and other gender-implicit descriptors.

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