Knoxville lesbian couple get divorce after politically charged battle

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In this undated photo provided by the Misssouri State Senate, the gavel of the Missouri Senate is displayed resting on the Senate dais in Jefferson City, Missouri. The gavel was last seen on March 18, 2016, and Senate leaders fear that someone may have stolen it. (Harrison Sweazea, Missouri Senate via AP)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A lesbian couple have received a divorce decree after a custody battle that was targeted by dozens of conservative Tennessee lawmakers who tried to intervene in the case.

The same-sex divorce and custody case became a political flashpoint after a Knoxville judge initially ruled that one of the women had no parental rights to a child conceived by artificial insemination because she did not meet the legal definition of “husband.”

The judge changed his mind, granted the divorce and approved a plan for Sabrina and Erica Witt to split custody.Related story:Same-sex couples sue over Tennessee ‘natural meaning’ law

But the divorce came May 2 as the state Legislature was pushing through a bill that gay rights groups say encourages judges to deny rights to same-sex couples when defining words such as “husband” and “wife” or “father” and “mother.”

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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