Legal Briefs (October 2013)

NASW, through its Legal Defense Fund, filed an amicus brief in the Court of Appeals for Middle Section of Tennessee at Nashville in the case Garretson v. Jones.

The case involves lesbian parents who have separated. One of the parents is seeking to deny access to the child by the non-adoptive mother. A trial court had found that the child had built a bond with both women for his initial four and one-half years of life. However, the trial court ruled against the non-adoptive mother on legal grounds.

The brief urges the appellate court to reverse the trial court’s decision. It states that decades of social science research shows that children experience psychological harm when attachments they have formed with their parents are severed, regardless of the parents’ sexual orientation.

“Attachment bonds develop between the child and a parent figure regardless of whether the parent and child are biologically or legally related,” the brief states.

NASW, through its LDF, filed an amicus brief in Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeals in the case G.P. v. C.P.

Appellee C.P. seeks to deny any parental rights to appellant G.P. and seeks to separate G.P. from the child they raised together from his birth to five years of age.

The brief states substantial social-science research demonstrates that allowing appellee C.P. to vacate the parties’ joint adoption and thereby allow her to separate appellant G.P. from the child could cause the child severe and possibly permanent harm.

The brief seeks to reverse a circuit court ruling that grants C.P.’s motion to terminate the child’s adoption, thereby creating a strong risk that the child will be permanently separated from G.P.

“Allowing C.P. to void the adoption and separate G.P. from the child could cause (the child) grave and long-lasting psychological harm,” the brief states.

NASW, through its LDF, joined other organizations in filing an Aug. 15 amicus brief with the U.S. Department of Justice, Board of Immigration Appeals, on behalf of a gay man who faces abuse and torture if he is deported to Jamaica.

Lambda Legal, the ACLU, the Center on HIV Law and Policy, and other groups joined in filing the brief. It argues that determinations about an individual’s sexual orientation should not be based on stigma.

The brief urges the board to reverse the denial of the man’s application not to be deported to Jamaica for fear he will face persecution and torture based on his actual or perceived sexual orientation.

An immigration judge had ruled that the man “could not prove that he was gay” based on perceived inconsistencies in his sexual behavior, including fathering children, the brief stated.

It noted that studies show that a person’s acceptance of a gay identity is a dynamic and prolonged process involving struggles with feelings of denial and shame.

“For many LGB people, their background and other characteristics complicate their coming-out process, particularly for people raised with cultural and religious precepts that regard LGB people as aberrant or abhorrent,” the brief states.

It highlighted that same-sex conduct and intimacy are outlawed under the Jamaican penal code.

Read these and other Amicus Brief Database cases online.