Pro-family groups in Maryland celebrated a court ruling this week that they said strengthened the ties of families and helped stem the tide of powerful pro-homosexual lobbyists.
In a 6-1 vote on Tuesday, the Maryland Supreme Court overturned the decision of two lower courts to grant child visitation rights to a “third-party, non-biological, non-adoptive individual.”
The issue first reached courts in March 2007 after Janice M., the mother of an adopted child from India, broke relations with her former lesbian partner, Margaret K. Margaret subsequently sued, claiming that she was entitled to visitation rights with Janice’s daughter – an assertion denied by the state’s highest court.
In a decision that was commended by pro-family groups, Chief Justice Robert Bell wrote in his majority opinion that Margaret had no legitimate claim to any role as a “de facto” parent.
“Moms and dads should not have to live in fear that the government can start giving other people rights to their children,” the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) said approvingly of the court’s ruling in a statement.
“Permitting third parties to obtain court-mandated interaction with children, contrary to the objections of fit parents, runs counter to basic constitutional principles,” the ADF said.
The Family Research Council, which monitored and brought attention to the case from the start, said the ruling was an important step in the right direction.
“The victory dealt a significant blow to the state's gay and lesbian lobby, who planned to use this case as a legal basis for creating alternative family structures,” the FRC explained.
“If the court had sided with Margaret, the judicial floodgates would have opened to challenges by thousands of ‘de facto’ parents, who believe that they have a ‘right to relationship’ with children to whom they are not legally or biologically bound,” the FRC added.
The pro-family organization further praised the court decision that upheld the traditional family structure.
“As the culture tinkers with the natural definition of the family, the fate of an institution created and ordained by God has been vulnerable to the whims of the courts,” the FRC said. “We are relieved to see that these justices recognized their role in protecting – not rewriting – the definition of the family.”