Supreme Court Reverses Alabama’s Lesbian Adoption Ruling – Without Hearing Arguments, States Gay Adoption Rights Are Valid Across State Lines

Alap Naik Desai - Author

Mar. 6 2017, Updated 2:01 a.m. ET

The Supreme Court slammed Alabama’s ruling in a lesbian adoption case. In a major victory for gay rights, the court ruled that an adoption procedure completed in one state will have to be honored across state lines, and states cannot arbitrarily deny the rights accorded through the process.

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The Supreme Court threw out an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that said the state need not recognize a lesbian mother’s adoption that had taken place in neighboring Georgia. Without wasting time hearing deliberations, the Supreme Court clearly stated that adoption rights have to respected and honored across states. In this particular case, the court shot down Alabama’s stand of refusing to recognize a same-sex parent adoption from another state.

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The justices, in a unanimous opinion, rebuked the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to honor a lesbian’s adoption of three children in Georgia once her partner moved with them to Alabama, reportedLos Angeles Times. Alabama’s Supreme Court had earlier ruled that the state should not recognize a lesbian mother’s adoption of three children in neighboring Georgia.

The case pertains to a same-sex couple that had broken up, with one of the partners moving to Alabama after the break-up. The person now residing in Alabama denied visitation rights on the basis that the adoption had taken place in Georgia and Alabama residents needn’t abide by the laws pertaining to adoption set by Georgia. However, citing the Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit clause, the high court ruled all states have a duty to honor legal agreements made in other states, and there is certainly no exception for lesbian or gay adoptions.

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The ruling stems from the case about two women, denoted only as V.L. and E.L., who had been in a committed relationship from 1995 to 2011. During the time, the women decided to have children and, using “assisted reproductive technology,” E.L. gave birth to a child in 2002. Then again in 2004, the couple decided to bear more children and once again, E.L. was blessed with twins. Subsequent to childbirth, V.L. legally adopted the children and the duo began raising them as parents. Interestingly, the couple mentioned they had taken temporary residency in Georgia to win adoption rights for V.L., reported the Detroit Free Press. Incidentally, the couple never married and merely stayed together.

All was well until 2011, when the partners decided to end their relationship. Subsequent to the break-up, E.L., who was the biological mother of the children, moved to Alabama. Problems cropped up when she denied V.L. visitation rights. Having been barred from seeing her legally adopted children, V.L. decided to take the battle to the court.

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Unfortunately for V.L., Alabama Supreme Court sided with E.L., who is a resident of the state. The court in September ruled, since the original adoption had taken place in Georgia, it would be considered invalid in Alabama and needn’t be honored. The court noted that Georgia mistakenly granted V.L. joint custody. E.L.’s lawyer further added that 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.” However, the Supreme Court overturned the Alabama ruling, stating as follows.

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“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. Rather, Alabama must give full faith and credit to the Georgia court’s decision.”

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Subsequent to legalizing same-sex marriages in June, some of the intensely debated issues include adoption rights for same-sex couples, reported Wingate Wire. “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,” noted National Center for Lesbian Rights Family Law Director Cathy Sakimura, reported CNN.

[Photo by Machine Headz/Getty Images]


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