No Parent Rights For You and Your Meaningless Marriage

They have been together for 14 years, were married in California in 2008 during the brief window between gay marriage bans, and have raised a child together. But Alabama’s courts won’t call them a family.

In fact an Alabama appeals court on Friday ruled that, because of the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand are legal strangers and therefore parenting rights cannot be extended to include the both of them.

The couple went to court to petition for Searcy’s right to adopt the child she and McKeand planned for and McKeand, after becoming pregnant through artificial insemination, carried to term.

After a Mobile County Probate Court ruled that Searcy could not adopt the child because she had no biological or partnership claim the couple took their fight to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, only to be told the same.

With Presiding Judge Bill Thompson writing for the majority the court decided unanimously that the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage renders the couple’s California-recognized marriage redundant.

This is a significant ruling because it appears this may be one of the first times the state’s 2006 voter-enacted constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, known as the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment, has been invoked in this manner.

The amendment, steeped in religiosity, demands via its Section (e) that:

The State of Alabama shall not recognize as valid any marriage of parties of the same sex that occurred or was alleged to have occurred as a result of the law of any jurisdiction regardless of whether a marriage license was issued.

The amendment also prevents recognition of any marriage-like partnerships such as civil unions, meaning Alabama’s gay and lesbian residents have little chance of accessing partnership benefits.

Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand specifically chose to marry in order that they might be able to win joint parenting rights for their son, now six years-old, after Searcy’s previous attempt to adopt was denied by Judge Davis because Searcy and McKeand were not married.

Joint parenting rights are an important safe-guard that, while de facto for straight couples, many same-sex couples are denied. The danger of this was brought into sharp relief for the couple when their son required heart surgery as a baby and only McKeand was allowed to sign consent forms for certain medical procedures their son required.

Still, this has not stopped one Alabama senator from gloating about this so-called victory for marriage.

“This ruling solidifies the fact the institution of marriage includes a man and a woman raising the children,” state Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, is quoted as saying by the AP.

The couple is considering further appeals, perhaps even taking their case to a federal court. They may have cause to do so because the ruling, with Judge Davis invoking the marriage amendment, has exposed the legal tangle that prevents them and all other same-sex couples from accessing joint adoption rights.

In effect, the state refuses them the right to jointly adopt because they aren’t married. The state then refuses to recognize their California-enacted marriage, per the marriage amendment, and so denies them the right to jointly adopt. They have no legal remedy for this within the state and therefore a federal appeal could be fruitful. However, they would also have to take on the federal Defense of Marriage Act which explicitly says that states do not have to honor same-sex couple marriages from other states. This is no small thing.

Also, and as with any court case, the cost of such legal action could be prohibitive, something the couple’s lawyers have already stressed may be an issue.

In the meantime the couple must continue to raise their son and go about day-to-day life knowing that Alabama treats their marriage as though it never happened, and that Searcy could, should the unthinkable happen to her partner, potentially be denied access to their son with little chance at a legal remedy.


Related Reading:

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Judge Blasts Alabama “Debtor’s Prison”

Alabama Passes Bill to Allow Autism Therapy Dogs in Schools


Image credit: ThinkStock.


Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Lauren Graham
Lauren Rischel5 years ago

Where to start? Cyan, marriage is a civil matter; if one wants to have a religious wedding, that is all very nice, but without a civil marriage certificate, you are still not married. As to pedophilia, statistically, over 90% of pedophiles are straight males, and of those, over 70% identify as Christian. So where does the problem lie, really?

The religious right is always talking about 'every child a wanted child'. This seems vastly hypocritical, since for most of them, if their child were gay, they would likely disown it. Our prisons and foster care systems are full of unwanted children, are you going to adopt them, even if they are gay, disabled or not white? I think not. Straights have children from a night of drunken partying, the backseat of some jock's car or by accident. Same sex couples have to go through endless hoops and legal processes, but they do it intentionally, though it can be extremely expensive, because they actually love the child

Heather G.
Heather G5 years ago

Cyan, Pedophilia and homosexuality are NOT the same. Marriage equality is NOT special rights for a few. And when and how did you CHOOSE to be straight????

John Hablinski
John Hablinski5 years ago

Cyan, You don’t know what in the hell you are talking about. Not one single statement you made in your ill informed statements is remotely true including you alleged Christianity; no Christian would pen such hateful words. Your hostility suggests you are very insecure in your own sexuality and are filled with hate because of it. Write again when you learn anything other than self hate and stupidity.

Cyan D.
Cyan Dickirs5 years ago

It is not primitive or backwards thinking to not extend marriage "rights" to homosexuals. Marriage is a religious institution; government has taken control of it and control over families.

A study of civilizations shows that when homosexuality and pedophilia are rampant, along with orgies and debauchery in general, those "civilizations" failed (Greek and Roman) or failed to advance at all. Moving forward does not require approval of homosexuality; just the opposite.
Most posts herein condemning Christianity as hateful and backwards are intolerant of anyone who doesn't actively praise or approve of homosexuality. Do any of you or homosexuals who condemn Christians acknowledge that homosexuals are killed in Muslim countries? That is what intolerance is.

Cyan D.
Cyan Dickirs5 years ago

Apparently, most gays don't believe in state's rights.
Apparently, gays think if they are not given special rights, and/or not actively praised for their lifestyle choices, they are victims of hatred and backward thinking.
If you don't like the way your state treats you, move where you rule-like west hollywood, CA.
Homosexuals have a choice to act on their feelings or not. They do not have a right to force others to accept their choices and behaviors. I do not agree with beatings or death for those choices, I do, though a Christian, tolerate their existence. That does not imply approval, nor will I condone special rights or a perversion of the concept of equality.
Hermaphrodites are not that way by choice; hard cases make bad law.
Homosexuality is not in any way equivalent to race, gender. It would be self eliminating if not for the active recruitment/propaganda undertaken by many homosexuals and the frequent early sexualization thru pedophilia. I have been friends with and observed a number of homosexuals, some of whom claim to have been "born that way" but also admitted to having been abused sexually by a same sex person or relative at an early age, or told they were homosexual and aroused by a same sex person or relative and indoctrinated into the "lifestyle they were born into". Transgender persons are most definitely choosing that path. Do I have to pay for their surgeries and choices through tax dollars and Obamacare?
Primitive and backwards concept of sexual

Scott Gurstein
Scott Gurstein5 years ago

Just Alabamastan, or any other state with laws like this, how is that law applied to hermaphrodites? Are they allowed to marry and raise children with a partner of either gender, or are they simply told they cannot marry anyone at all, have no family rights, and that they just need to go die and burn in hell? Seriously! What happens to hermaphrodites with these bans? Any of you right-wingers want to jump in and answer this one?

Amber Grisetti
Amber Laverack5 years ago

It's heartbreaking and a shame that this sort of discrimination is still legal in one of the supposed "best" countries in the world.

John Hablinski
John Hablinski5 years ago

Ladies you are living in one of the 4 or 5 most backward states in the union. Alabama is and frequently has been an embarrassment for the nation. It wouldn’t surprise me if the state allowed siblings to marry one another as long as they were male & female. We really need 2 new amendments to the US Constitution one that recognizes Gay marriages and a second that allows the US to expel states such backward states as Alabama; they do not deserve statehood.

Christopher M.
Christopher M.5 years ago

@Karen B and Christians are the enemy?
The Apostle Paul did not really care about politics just saving souls.