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Top Michigan Court Rejects Appeals In Same-Sex Custody Cases

By Ed White, Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court rejected appeals Wednesday from two lesbians who want parenting time with children who were born to their former partners.

In separate cases, Deanna Mabry and Rola Kolailat sued to be granted the parental rights. They argue that now that gay marriage is legal, they should get the associated benefits retroactively — even if relationships with their partners are over.

The Michigan appeals court, however, ruled against them, saying the women have no rights under state law because they're not the biological mothers and the children weren't born during a marriage. In brief orders, the Supreme Court, 5-2, declined to take appeals.

Mabry was in a same-sex relationship for 15 years. Her partner gave birth to three children between 2001 and 2008 and even took Mabry's last name. But they ended the relationship, and Mabry has been prohibited from seeing the children.

Justice Bridget McCormack said the case deserves the Supreme Court's attention.

"As with all child custody disputes, the child's best interests are paramount, and trial courts regularly engage in fact-finding to determine how those interests should be served," said McCormack, who was joined in her dissent by Justice Richard Bernstein.

"I believe Michigan's trial courts are capable of evaluating the parties' relationship to determine whether the parties would have married but for Michigan's unconstitutional prohibition of same-sex marriage," McCormack wrote.

She predicted there would be only a small number of similar cases.

Kolailat was in a same-sex relationship for nine years. Like Mabry, she said she's been cut off from a child who was born to her partner during that time.

Both cases were filed in Washtenaw County.


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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