In what may be a first, an Alabama judge has ruled that a lesbian mother can have unrestricted visitation rights to her children. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, who represented the woman in court, a Mobile County judge granted the rights without so-called overnight restrictions -- sometimes called "paramour" restrictions -- that normally prevent unmarried partners of parents from staying overnight in a house with children.

“This sets the right precedent for LGBT parents – and any unmarried parent in Alabama because LGBT people and unmarried parents have just as much right to their children as heterosexual couples,” said SPLC senior staff attorney Sam Wolfe in a statement on the SPLC website.

Chelsea Hughes moved from Seattle to Alabama to be close to her four children when their father -- Hughes' ex-husband -- was transferred by the military. The children's father fought Hughes' efforts to see them because of their mother's sexual orientation and her relationship with another woman, a stalemate that lasted for months before the SPLC's involvement in the case.

On July 25, a circuit court awarded Hughes full visitation rights, which SPLC said may be the first time an openly gay or lesbian parent has been accorded these rights in the state of Alabama. Overnight restrictions have typically stood in the way of such rights in the past.

“Parents should never have to choose between their children and an unmarried partner,” said Wolfe. “LGBT parents have faced serious mistreatment in Alabama and it has got to stop.”

[image of lesbian moms via]