The case study I have chosen is about Emily and Lois, a legally married couple of the same sex in San Francisco. They had recently moved to a state where same-sex marriage is not allowed and were facing discrimination and threats; by neighbors and even family members. Emily parents are trying to gain custody of their child which they have through vitro fertilization, claiming the homosexual relationship rendered them unfit to raise their child. Feeling completely helpless, this couple came to me for help and support.
At first glance, I see no ethical issue. I am a lesbian, which happens to volunteers for the Human Right Campaign; fervently working to secure the rights of all within the LIGHT community. But then I began to wonder, if my passion for the struggles of lesbians and those within the LIGHT community, would not affect my Judgment on what is best for Emily and Lois? Initially my first response would be to encourage them to fight. I lead their way, holding their torch to the bitter end. But I began thinking, what would that do to them? What would that do to their relationship with Emily parents?
Is the harassment within the neighborhood bad enough that it could lead to violence? Could someone get hurt? Is Emily and Olio’s relationship strong enough to go through all of this? Truthfully, my list could go on and on, but those were the biggest, most immediate issues I saw once I looked closer. So, firstly, depending on how determined they were to stay in a state that was so unfriendly, I may help them find appropriate legal counsel to fight not only the civil liberties violations aspect of the problem, but the custody case as well.
Doing my best to find an attorney that had had success in civil liberties cases. If they thought they were not up for the fight, I would help them find a relocation specialist and a therapist in a more accepting state. Second, should they decide to stay and fight, I would try to initiate a family counseling session with Emily parents. Emily and Lois would need to sit through a few session that would allow her parents to voice their concerns and hopefully address the issues and make Emily parents understand that their same sex marriage would not affect parenting a child.
As a lesbian, I have found that sometimes it is simply because people do not understand. So hopefully, with communication, Emily parents could become more accepting of same-sex marriage and families. Standard ‘-Responsibility to Clients states Marriage and family therapists advance the welfare of families and individuals and make reasonable efforts to find the appropriate balance between conflicting goals within the family system.
It would be here that I find I could have easily violated the code of ethics if had not taken a closer look at my own feelings. Specifically, 1. 8 Client Autonomy in Decision Making; Marriage and family therapists respect the rights of clients to make decisions and help them to understand the consequences of these decisions. Therapists clearly advise clients that clients have the responsibility to make decisions regarding relationships such as cohabitation, marriage, divorce, separation, reconciliation, custody, and visitation (MAMBA, 2011).