- The Washington Times - Monday, January 31, 2005

ANNAPOLIS — A court ruling forcing a homosexual father’s partner to move out of the house where the father is raising his 12-year-old son “has been so negative for the child in so many ways,” the father’s attorney said yesterday.

“It’s very upsetting to the child. He wants his father’s partner to be able to move back in, and they can just resume their normal family life,” said Shannon Minter, attorney for Ulf Hedberg.

Mr. Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, filed a brief with the Court of Special Appeals yesterday, asking the court to dissolve a Virginia court order prohibiting Blaise Delahoussaye from living in the house with Mr. Hedberg and his son.

“The son just misses the partner very much. He had been living with them 5 years from about 4 to 9. It’s very upsetting to the child,” Mr. Minter said.

According to court papers, after Mr. Hedberg and the boy’s mother, Annica Detthow, separated in 1996, Mr. Delahoussaye moved in with the father and son. Three years later, the two men bought a house together, and Mr. Delahoussaye played an active role in raising the boy.

But in 2000, when the mother moved to Florida, she sought custody of the boy. A judge in Alexandria awarded joint legal custody to the parents, but gave Mr. Hedberg primary physical custody with the condition that Mr. Delahoussaye move out of the house.

The two men then moved to Montgomery County and rented separate apartments. Mr. Hedberg filed suit in Montgomery County Circuit Court to dissolve the Virginia court order, but the lawsuit was dismissed.

Mrs. Detthow is opposing the move to dissolve the Virginia order, but “has no objection to the father and her son living in Maryland” and is not seeking to alter the custody judgment, said her attorney, Patrick Stiehm.

“She is satisfied with the way things have gone to this point. She sees no reason for making that one particular change,” Mr. Stiehm said.

He would not elaborate on why Mrs. Detthow does not want the order prohibiting Mr. Delahoussaye’s living with her former husband and her son changed.

Mr. Minter said that because of the additional financial burden of maintaining two households, Mr. Hedberg and Mr. Delahoussaye had to sell the Virginia house and moved to smaller apartments in Maryland.

“The father has lost the tremendous benefit of having a second person on the scene to help with chores and dinner and caretaking, so he’s been able to spend less time with the child,” Mr. Minter said.

Two national homosexual rights organizations — Lambda Legal and National Center for Lesbian Rights — are supporting Mr. Hedberg’s lawsuit.

“This child’s world was turned upside down all because a Virginia court issued a knee-jerk, anti-gay custody restriction,” said Susan Sommer, supervising attorney at Lambda Legal. “He lost his home, his school, his park and, most importantly, the proximity of the caring adult who has helped raise him.”

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