Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Non-fiction: Gay Parenting

The gay rights issue that has garnered most of the public attention and headlines in recent years has been the fight over gay marriage. But more quietly, behind the scenes, there has been a battle waged in the courts over the last 40 years by LGBT parents over challenges that have been made to their parental custody. At one time, in legal actions that largely involved lesbian mothers, gay parents had their children taken away from them because of their sexual orientation or because they were in a same-sex relationship in their household. The progress has been slow, and not always uniform throughout the country, but for the most part the courts have come to reject the previously held belief that same-sex orientation, or being transgendered, renders individuals incapable of being good parents. The law is increasingly coming to recognize the wide diversity in American familial structures.

This is the first book to chronicle the history of how LGBT parents have turned to the courts to protect and defend their relationships with their children. The evolution of the law in this area should be of interest to LGBT parents, and actually to all parents, because in the process of defending their parental rights the challenges of LGBT parents have resulted in fundamental changes in how American law defines and regulates parenthood. This book not only reviews the legal issues at stake and the changes that have occurred, but by recounting the stories of those families and children involved in some of the precedent-setting cases, it makes clear in a very intimate and powerful way the devastation caused to both children and parents by discriminatory assumptions about gay parents. Losing custody of your child is not an abstracted political issue. In The Right to be Parents, Carlos Ball demonstrates that in American society and law the move towards equality and greater social justice for one group can help us redefine the assumptions on which our laws are made and direct our attention anew to the people and ideals those laws seek to protect.

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