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U.S. Supreme Court Upholds LGBT Adoption

On March 7th, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously reversed an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that denied parental rights to a lesbian adoptive mother.

The couple had conceived three children over the 16-year span of their relationship, where one was the biological mother and the other the adoptive mother. The final adoption decree, as administered in Georgia, declared both parents to be the children’s legal parents.

However, the couple split up while living in Alabama, and when the biological mother denied the adoptive mother access to the children, the Alabama Supreme Court declared that Georgia had wrongfully agreed to the adoption in the first place. Specifically, the court declared that Georgia had mistakenly granted joint custody and therefore the decision was not entitled to full faith and credit. However, it’s no secret that there was also a political agenda in denying these parental rights, as one Alabama judge wrote that he had a “legitimate interest in encouraging that children be adopted into the optimal family structure, i.e. one with both a faith and a mother.”

The Decision

On March 7th, the U.S. Supreme Court specifically indicated that the Alabama Supreme Court had misread Georgia law and violated the “full faith and credit” clause of the U.S. Constitution, providing that each state give full faith and credit to the judicial proceedings of every other state. This includes not overturning a judgment simply because one state disagrees with another.

Progress Slow For Some

Sadly, this saga is one that comports with LGBT and same-sex marriage rights in the state of Alabama, historically. The Alabama Supreme Court, in particular, has been slow to adopt marriage equality progress embraced by many of the other states. The state previously also had issues with probate judges being prohibited from granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even after the ban on same-sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. However, on February 29th, the Alabama Supreme Court admitted defeat and finally ordered all probate judges to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring Alabama’s decision to be unconstitutional could affect adoption issues in approximately 30 other states, as they current grant “second-parent adoptions” to LGBT couples by law in order to ensure that children have two legal parents even for couples who do not share a biological connection to the children, yet they have done so under statutory frameworks that, like Georgia’s, do not expressly do so. In this way, this particular decision could affect thousands of adopted families, particularly those who move to Alabama. It could also affect other states that challenge or deny same-sex adoptions.

LGBT Adoption Attorney in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

At the law office of Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A., we help families through the process of stepparent adoption and the legal rights it infers. No parent should have to face being separated from their children years after an adoption due to discrimination. Yet, since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality, family law has been in a state of adjustment to incorporate these rights, and thus any adoption must be done carefully.

We are proud to serve the LGBT community, and are available to assist with any area of family law. Contact us today for assistance.

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