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In a number of states, a parent's sexual orientation cannot in and of itself prevent a parent from being given custody of or visitation with his or her child.
As a practical matter, however, lesbian and gay parents -- even in those states -- may be denied custody or visitation. This is because judges, when considering the best interests of the child, may be motivated by their own or community prejudices, and may find reasons other than the lesbian or gay parent's sexual orientation to deny custody or appropriate visitation.
If you are involved in a custody case and are concerned about bias against you because you are gay or lesbian, make sure you consult a lawyer about protecting your rights. You can get attorney referrals from the National Center for Lesbian Rights (www.nclrights.org).
To learn more about legal issues affecting lesbian and gay parents and couples, check out Nolo's Lesbian & Gay Couples area.