Federal judge orders Louisiana to list same-sex couple as parents on adopted child’s birth certificate

Posted on 29 Dec 2008 at 4:41pm

Louisiana Vital Records Official had refused on grounds that Louisiana does not allow joint adoption by unmarried couples

NEW ORLEANS — A same-sex couple in California has won a federal court ruling that their adopted son’s Louisiana birth certificate must bear the names of both adoptive fathers.

An attorney for Louisiana’s Vital Records Office argued that Louisiana law does not let even grandparents adopt jointly.

But a federal judge in New Orleans ruled Dec. 22 that Louisiana must give full faith and credit to the New York state court in which the boy was adopted. District Judge Jay Zainey ruled without a trial, saying the law is clear.

The boy was born in Shreveport. Oren Adar and Mickey Ray Smith of San Diego adopted him in April 2006, through Ulster County Family Court in Kingston, N.Y.

Officials with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, which represented Adar and Smith, called the ruling "a major victory for same-sex parents nationwide."

Ken Upton, supervising senior staff attorney with Lambda’s Southwest Regional office in Dallas, handled the case. He said, "This sends a strong message to state officials across the country that the Constitution requires them to respect the parent-child relationships established by adoption decrees, regardless of the state where the decree is entered. State officials may not punish children by denying them a birth certificate simply because they disapprove of their parents."

Adar, who now lives with his partner and their son in San Diego, said they are "clearly very happy" with the ruling.

"As an adopted child myself, I understand the need to feel like you belong. I remember as a child wanting to see my own birth certificate and to see my parents listed, because it gave me a sense of belonging, of identity and of dignity. I want our child to see Mickey’s name and my name as parents on his birth certificate."

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