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Birth mother jailed in Pa. same-sex custody dispute

Friday, January 10, 2014

MERCER, Pa. — A woman has been jailed for contempt of court in western Pennsylvania for moving to Ohio with her 12-year-old birth daughter in violation of a judge’s order in a bitter same-sex custody dispute.

custodyJeannette Rowan, who last lived in Oxford, Ohio, was jailed Wednesday by a Mercer County judge, reports the Sharon, Pa., Herald.

The judge had earlier barred Rowan from leaving Pennsylvania with the daughter Rowan birthed in 2001 when she and Lisa Lewis, of Sharon, were still partners.

After Rowan and Lewis broke up in 2006, Rowan allowed Lewis to visit Jaylie, but terminated the visits in 2007.

Lewis took the case to court and was granted supervised visitation rights. Rowan appealed the decision, but it was upheld.

A judge denied Rowan’s request to move to Ohio with the girl. Lewis sued and was granted physical custody in December 2012.

Rowan had moved to Ohio with the girl in the meantime, but was tracked down last month.

The girl’s birthfather is Lewis’ nephew, Jeremy Archer, who is serving a life prison sentence for the 2005 slaying of Kristen Truchan of Shenango Township. He has not participated in the custody proceedings.

The daughter is currently living with Lewis.

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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26 more reader comments:

  1. BULLSHIT!!! SHE CAN MOVE ANYWHERE AND WITH WHOEVER SHE WANTS ONE MOM IS GOOD BUT TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE.. FUCK THAT JUDGE!!!

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 4:10pm
  2. Wrong. Just like in any OTHER custody dispute, when one parent wishes to move out of the state, or even just far away, and the other parent does not wish to, the courts must decide. In this case, the judge made the decision to deny the move (which is a valid choice for the judge to make, it's been made in straight custody battles all the time!) and when she moved anyways, she violated the court order. She'll be lucky to get off with just a contempt of court!

    Replied on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 6:31pm
  3. Good for the judge seeing this as a parental issue and not a “same sex” issue! Step forward for PA!!!!

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 4:12pm
  4. This is exactly how it should happen.

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 4:15pm
  5. She was clearly trying to break the law. This was not seen in a sexuality or gender setting ; showing two women (or men) with Kids is not a big deal.

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 4:16pm
  6. Interesting case and a sign of the times…

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 4:18pm
  7. isn’t it a run of the mill child custody battle?are we supposed to me outraged it happened or outraged we’re a little less fabulous and more bland?

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 4:21pm
  8. I don’t think outrage is necessary at all. I’m happy to see this case being treated like any other custody case. I live in WI and here they won’t recognize same sex custody. This is a huge step in the right direction!

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 4:27pm
  9. Brooke Barone did u see this?

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 4:28pm
  10. Poor kid what a mess. Custody battles are damage to kids

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 4:32pm
  11. Moving someone’s child far away from them is shitty and cruel, anyway. I’m always going to be on the side of the parent staying put.

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 4:33pm
  12. I guess she shouldn’t have went against a court order. Birth mother doesn’t mean squat if you don’t have physical custody. It would’ve went the same way had it been a heterosexual couple.

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 4:35pm
  13. MARITZA FLORES. PA does not recognize same sex marriage. A lesbian couple I know got married in another state. Chose to have a baby by sperm donor. D carried the baby. R had to adopt the baby. They had to go through the adoption process just like a hetero couple. Their lawyer basically had to be in the delivery room when D gave birth so that R could adopt. The couple in this article were “partners” and it does not indicate that the child was ever adopted. This judge made a momentous decision, based on our state laws~which are lousy in child custody even for hetero couples. The birth mother in this case had ALL of the rights, all of them. She violated a court order. She belongs in jail.

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 4:36pm
  14. As usual reporting on legal matters is lacking. We need to read the Judge’s ruling to know why the Judge ruled the way the Judge ruled.

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 4:39pm
  15. Not really. The judge ruled for supervised visits for the non-custodial parent. The custodial parent asked the judge for permission to move out of the state with the child, and the judge said that the child had to stay in the state. The custodial parent moved anyways. No mystery about why the judge ruled the way he did, he'd have done the same thing in any OTHER custodial case.

    Replied on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 6:24pm
  16. interesting article, wish NY would get on the ball with same sex custody suits like PA. Thanks Kierstin Barnhart for sharing.

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 4:51pm
  17. As I read these comments, I just would like to let everyone know of the website http://www.equalrights4equalmoms.com the website is slowly growing but is in regards to same sex custody and the NEED for change in our government!!! I, myself, am struggling with same sex custody issues in NY and unfortunately our state appears to be a bit behind when it comes to recognizing the non-biological parent. I invite you all to check out the page.

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 4:53pm
  18. We will be seeing more of this, including gay divorce.

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 4:55pm
  19. Poor child. I’m more concerned about her than her parents. I’m gay too.

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 4:56pm
  20. Non issue. We wanted equality and this is what it looks like, We are granted the same rights and held to the SAME laws as our heterosexual counterparts. We can’t have it both ways our relationships recognized when it benefits us but be discriminated against when the marriage no longer suits us, ONE OR THE OTHER, Shame on lgbtqnation for trying to make this an issue,

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 5:10pm
  21. I hate to see that this has happened – a custody battle that puts a child in the middle. I am, however, thrilled to see that this couple is being treated just like a heterosexual couple. The birth mother broke the law. There are consequences.

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 6:57pm
  22. I have never read so much USA oppression of humanity in one day! Where is Obama in all of this?Absent in the Latinos and homosexual affairs as usual. He really doesn’t give a damn about us. He just says oh well it’s complicated! world class idiot!

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 11:32pm
  23. Awful!

    Posted on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 11:56pm
  24. equal means equal—good for the judge

    Posted on Saturday, January 11, 2014 at 12:26am
  25. what a mess…

    Posted on Saturday, January 11, 2014 at 11:48am
  26. Glad the judge stuck by the real issue if we want the same rights we have to follow the same rules, and best thing about all of it is the judge in his decision gave recognition to same-sex parenting which for some they don’t even have.

    Posted on Saturday, January 11, 2014 at 1:43pm