The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), including the NASW Michigan Chapter, submitted an amicus brief on March 10, 2023, to the Michigan Supreme Court as it hears the case Pueblo v. Haas. The case will determine custody rights for separated, unmarried LGBTQ couples.
The case concerns Carrie Pueblo and Rachel Haas — partners in a committed same-sex relationship — who chose to have a child together using assisted insemination, with Ms. Haas carrying the child. In 2014, the relationship ended before same sex marriage was legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court, but they continued to share custody and parenting of the child.
In 2017, Ms. Haas requested that Ms. Pueblo have no further contact with their child. Ms. Pueblo filed a complaint seeking joint legal and physical custody. The trial court and the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in Ms. Haas’s favor, finding that because Ms. Haas and Ms. Pueblo were never married, and Ms. Pueblo is not a legal parent or related to the child, she has no right to assert custody. Ms. Pueblo’s case is now before the Michigan Supreme Court.
NASW submits amicus briefs to offer the social work perspective in court cases that impact social workers and the communities they support.
The amicus brief in this case urges the court to consider the best interests of the child. Making an unnecessary change to a child’s relationship with their parent can cause serious emotional harm to the child.
Social science research confirms that the bonds of attachment are critical for a child’s healthy development. It does not matter whether there is a biological or legal connection between the parent and child.
NASW supports protecting the familial attachments between LGBTQ couples and their children and recognizes that these familial relationships are of the same strength, depth, and importance to the healthy development of children as the relationships of opposite-sex couples and their children.
Other organizations filing amicus briefs were ACLU of Michigan, the Family Law Section of the State Bar of MI, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, LGBTQA Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan, Affirmations LGBTQ+ Community Center, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, MI Chapter, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
The court has until July 31, 2023 to issue an opinion on the case.
NASW’s involvement in this case was coordinated by its Legal Defense Fund (LDF). Since 1972, the LDF has provided financial legal assistance and support for legal cases and issues of concern to NASW members and the social work profession. LDF supports educational projects and programs to improve the legal status and knowledge of the social work profession.