Excerpts from the cover article of TIME, February 29, 1993:




Ohio's Cliffton County Associate Judge Felix Weiner has ruled that two lesbian couples will be allowed to adopt. Today's decision ends a year long court battle by the parents to win legal custody...

One of the cases was merely symbolic, since the child whose custodial status was in question is already twenty-two years old, but she and her parents wanted to be part of the ground-breaking legal procedure that resulted in Judge Weiner's ruling that unmarried couples, including lesbian and gay couples, have the right to adopt children if that adoption is in the "best interest of the child".

"Our clients, Maud Francis and Elizabeth Goswell, are loving, committed parents. Today's decision provides legal recognition of that truth," said Cliffton's ACLU Chapter Director Roy Evans. "Today's ruling secures the right of children in all families to be treated equally by the courts."

"We are extremely pleased that the court has legally recognized that the childrens' best interests are served by these adoptions," said one of the mothers, Elizabeth Goswell. "This is a historic moment in Ohio and a validation of the successful family life Maud and I have enjoyed with our daughter, Anais, since we assumed informal custody of her twenty year ago."

This case was remarkable in many respects, since the petitioners' story is so completely extraordinary. Maud Francis and Elizabeth Goswell have been committed partners since they met during Ms. Goswell's undergraduate days at Cliff College when Ms. Francis, a Cliffton, Ohio local girl, sought sanctuary from her intolerant family with the informal Cliff commune of which Ms. Goswell was a member.

In the early autumn of 1970, an infant girl was abandonned in the dormitory in which the commune lived and, as a group of over a dozen, they decided to care for the child. Ms. Francis, as the only member of the group who was not enrolled as a student, was presumed to be the child's mother by the authorities, but, in fact, to this day no one has any idea as to who were the parents of Anais Grace (as they named the baby). When, in the spring of 1973, the members of the Sayers' Gang (as the commune came to be known) graduated and went their various ways, Ms. Francis and Ms. Goswell, convinced of their lifelong committment to one another, were pleased to make a similar committment to Anais. As the years have gone by, all the members of the Sayers' Gang have continued to provide emotional and financial support for Anais, but there has been no doubt in anyone's mind that the two women in whose home she grew up were, as completely as anyone can be, her parents.

Ms. Francis is the active proprietor of
An Inn of One's Own, the Bed&Breakfast she owns with Ms. Goswell who is a Detective with the Cliffton Police Force. Throughout the years, the small and close-knit community of Cliffton made it as easy as possible for the women to parent Anais without bureaucratic complications, but when Cliffton's ACLU Director, Mr. Evans sought their counsel in preparing his case for another lesbian couple, the two women, with the support and encouragement of their daughter, asked that they be co-petitioners.

Ms. Francis made it clear just how supportive the community has been when she told us that Cliffton's mayor, Charlotte Cliff, would be hosting the celebration bash to which several hundred College and Cliffton residents were invited and thousands were expected to show up to toast the town's newest official family.