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Lesbian Mother Abandons Fight to Get Son Back

August 16, 1996| From Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. — A lesbian who lost custody of her son because of her sex life abandoned a three-year battle to get the boy back from her own mother Thursday.

But Sharon Bottoms testified that she will instead seek expanded visitation rights, including permission to bring 5-year-old Tyler Doustou to the apartment she shares with her lover.

"She just didn't want to go through this ordeal again," explained Donald Butler, Bottoms' attorney.

The boy's uncontested guardian is now Kay Bottoms, Sharon Bottoms' mother, who fought for custody because she was offended by her daughter's lesbianism.

"I'm happy," she said.

In a ruling that angered gay-rights advocates, the younger Bottoms lost custody of Tyler in 1993 when a judge said she was an unfit mother because she and her live-in lover, April Wade, engaged in oral sex, a crime in Virginia.

A Virginia appeals court reversed the judge in 1994 and ruled that homosexuality alone is not grounds for losing custody.

But in 1995, the state Supreme Court ruled, 4-3, that Sharon Bottoms should not have custody, declaring that "active lesbianism practiced in the home" may subject a child to the condemnation of others.

Sharon Bottoms, 26, and the child's father are divorced, and he has not been involved in the boy's upbringing. She has been allowed to visit Tyler on Mondays and Tuesdays, but she must keep him away from her apartment and her girlfriend.

"We are a family, April and I. When Tyler is there, I would like for him to see that," she testified Thursday.

At the hearing, Arnold L. Stolberg, a psychologist, testified that Tyler would suffer no harm from seeing his mother and Wade hugging and kissing.

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