Louisiana Gay Adoption Case Heading to Supreme Court
Lamda Legal filed on Monday a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case of a same-sex couple seeking to be able to put both their names on the birth certificate of their Louisiana-born son whom they adopted in New York.
Louisiana state has refused to to recognize the adoption and will not grant an adoption certificate to both fathers.
“By treating adopted children whose parents are unmarried worse than other adopted children, Louisiana violates two well-established federal constitutional protections, both of which embody principles of equal treatment and unify us as a nation. First, the constitution mandates that Louisiana, like every other state, must treat all out-of-state adoption judgments equally. Second, Louisiana may not treat adopted children themselves differently based on the marital status of their legal parents,” said Kenneth D. Upton, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s South Central Regional Office based in Dallas. “We have long since abandoned the notion that the government can punish children to express disapproval of their parents or their families. The state of Louisiana cannot withhold a birth certificate for this child simply because it doesn’t like who his parents are.”
Lambda Legal represents Oren Adar and Mickey Smith in their case against Louisiana State Registrar Darlene Smith. Adar and Smith are a gay couple who adopted their Louisiana-born son in 2006 in New York, where a judge issued an adoption decree. When the couple attempted to get a new birth certificate for their child, in part so Smith could add his son to his health insurance, the registrar’s office told him that Louisiana does not recognize adoption by unmarried parents and so they could not issue it.
A U.S. District Court judge ruled in 2009 that denying both men a right to be on the birth certificate was unconstitutional and that the parents’ and child’s rights had been violated.
A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit upheld that ruling in 2010.
However, the state petitioned for a rehearing and won, placing the case before a full court of 16 judges in January 2011.
The 5th Circuit then delivered a sharply divided ruling in April of this year that overturned the previous decisions, saying that denying both men a listing on the birth certificate does not infringe the child’s right to equal protection and nor does it prevent legal recognition of the New York adoption — only that such recognition must comport with state law.
The petition filed Monday by Lambda Legal argues that the 5th Circuit ignored “well-established Supreme Court law” and that the decision “conflicts with other federal circuits across the country.”
Lambda Legal argues that, left to stand, this ruling would “[carve] out an exception to the uniformly recognized respect for judgments that states have come to rely upon and leaves adopted children and their parents vulnerable in their interactions with officials from other states.”
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