SCOTUS Ruling Ensures Custody & Rights For Gay Adoptive Parents
The Supreme Court decided today that an Alabama court was wrong to deny a lesbian her rights as an adoptive parent. Before you get too excited about the Supreme Court being dope and progressive, take a seat, because it’s on technical rather than ideological grounds.
The parents, V.L. and E.L., had adopted a child while they were together but not married, and they’ve since split. They were Alabama residents, but in order to be granted an adoption, they set up temporary residence in Georgia. After they separated, E.L. claimed that the Georgia court had mistakenly granted V.L. joint custody, and the Alabama Supreme Court agreed, saying that Georgia had no jurisdiction to grant the adoption.
So V.L. appealed, and the Supreme Court decided in her favor — that of course the Georgia court had the right to grant an adoption and joint custody in Georgia, and that the Alabama court was incorrect in arguing that it didn’t have to give “full faith and credit” to the Georgia decision. In other words, the Alabama Supreme Court was wrong not to recognize the joint adoption recognized by another state.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision today was unanimous, with the reversal stating that “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.”
It’s a familiar tune for the gay community — until last year’s landmark gay marriage decision, it could be an uphill battle to have your marriage and legal benefits as a spouse recognized in states that didn’t allow gays to marry. V.L. v. E.L. importantly establishes that gay parents of adoptive children have to be granted custody and their rights as parents in states other than that in which in the adoption took place, meaning that gay parents can move around freely without having to be afraid of losing their child.
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