20 May 2010
The New York Court of Appeals has held that, under New York law, a same-sex partner who had not legally adopted her partner’s biological child cannot assert visitation rights. The court determined that only biological or adoptive parents can seek visitation and other rights over a child. The lesbian couple has received a civil union in Vermont, but New York has no civil union law, and they do not recognize same-sex marriage. However, the court did recognize the doctrine of comity require New York to defer to the law of Vermont, which recognizes her as a parent.
In Maryland, Attorney General Gansler issued an non-binding opinion stating that Maryland state agencies should recognize same-sex marriages from other states. This opinion was also based on the principle of comity, i.e. the respect for the laws of other states. A similar case has been winding its way through the Maryland Court System for the past few years, only the courts have been looking it solely as a de factor parenthood case based on exceptional circumstances. It is yet to be seen what effect Gansler’s opinion could have on Maryland courts when faced with such issues.