Supreme Court reverses Alabama ruling on lesbian adoption rights
In a move that could help the LGBT community in the future, the United States Supreme Court has unanimously reversed the ruling of their Alabama state counterpart on lesbian adoption rights in a case involving two lesbian parents over their adopted children.
The move is especially important as it would set precedent in state and federal courts for LGBT adoption rights.
Court battle over lesbian adoption rights
The issue stems from a court battle between two lesbians– dubbed “VL” and “EL” in court documents– who adopted the three children that “EL” had via artificial insemination through an anonymous donor.
As the couple never married, the family moved to Georgia so as to grant adoption rights to “VL.”
Unfortunately, when the two split up, “EL” agreed with the ruling of the Alabama Supreme Court last September that Georgia had mistakenly granted “VL” joint custody.
In particular, the lawyers of “EL” said that “the Georgia court had no authority under Georgia law to award such an adoption, which is therefore void and not entitled to full faith and credit.”
“VL” had brought the matter to the Supreme Court, which blocked the state court’s action while it was considering the case. This temporarily restored the visitation rights of “VL.”
In their decision, the Supreme Court said, “A state may not disregard the judgment of a sister state because it disagrees with the reasoning underlying the judgment or deems it to be wrong on the merits.”
The high court further said that Alabama should give the Georgia court’s decision “full faith and credit.”
Lesbian adoption rights to apply for LGBT couples
With the SC’s decision last June legalizing same-sex marriage, adoption rights for LGBT couples has now cropped up.
Currently, about 30 states grant “second-parent adoptions” to gay and lesbian couples by law or lower court rulings.
These types of adoptions benefit adults who adopt children they don’t share a biological connection. This would also ensure children would have two legal parents.
Lawyers for “VL” said the case had broader implications for gay and lesbian adoptive parents who travel or move to Alabama.
“The Supreme Court’s reversal of Alabama’s unprecedented decision to void an adoption from another state is a victory not only for our client but for thousands of adopted families,” Cathy Sakimura, the National Center for Lesbian Rights’s family law director, said.
“No adoptive parent or child should have to face the uncertainty and loss of being separated years after their adoption just because another state’s court disagrees with the law that was applied in their adoption,” Sakimura added.
“When the Alabama court said my adoption was invalid and I wasn’t their mother, I didn’t think I could go on. The Supreme Court has done what’s right for my family,” “VL” said in a statement.
According to recent statistics by the Williams Institute at UCLA, an estimated 65,000 adopted children live with a lesbian or gay parent.