Same-Sex Adoption Upheld
Nina Totenberg of NPR reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously reverse an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that denied parental rights to a lesbian adoptive mother who had split with her partner.
The two women in the case were together for 16 years, and had three children conceived by assisted reproductive technology. The names of the parents have not been revealed, and are identified in court documents as “V.L.” and “E.L.” (NPR)
E.L. was the biological mother and V.L. adopted the children with her partner’s consent. The adoption took place in Georgia, and the adoption decree recognized both women as the children’s legal parents. When the parents, now living in Alabama, separated, the biological mother denied her former partner access to the children. The Alabama courts initially ordered shared custody, but the Alabama Supreme Court overturned the orders, saying the Georgia courts had wrongly agreed to adoption (NPR).
The adoptive mother appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the justices unanimously overruled the Alabama Supreme Court in a short, unsigned opinion, declaring that the Alabama court had misread Georgia law and violated the principles of the “full faith and credit clause” of the Constitution. The clause disallows any state from disregarding the decision of a sister state just because it disagrees with the reasoning underlying the judgment or “deems it to be wrong on the merits” (NPR).
Additionally, the justices said that the Alabama court incorrectly interpreted Georgia law.
“The result would comport neither with Georgia law nor with common sense,” the court said, adding that the Georgia court got it right in granting the adoption (NPR).
After the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision was released on Monday, the adoptive parent issued a statement, saying, “[When the Alabama Court said my adoption was invalid and I wasn’t their mother, I didn’t think I could go on. The U.S. Supreme Court has done what’s right for my family.” (NPR)
The Alabama same-sex adoption case is the latest in a series of cases recently taken by the Alabama Supreme Court regarding issues of gay rights and same-sex marriage. Nina Totenberg of NPR believes that “it is a tug of war that the Alabama Supreme Court is losing.”
Last year Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore prohibited probate judges in Alabama from granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. But early this month (March), the Alabama Supreme Court ordered all officials who issue marriage licenses to extend the service to same-sex couples (NPR).
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