AG says federal court has ‘significantly misinterpreted’ state’s law
NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana has 15 days to add the names of both fathers to the birth certificate of a boy born in Shreveport and adopted by a gay couple from out-of-state, a federal judge has ruled.
The state is asking the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the ruling by U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey, and to halt the order in the meantime, state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said Thursday, March 19.
"The federal district court has significantly misinterpreted Louisiana vital records law, forcing Louisiana to import and adopt New York law," he wrote in a brief e-mailed statement.
Oren Adar and Mickey Ray Smith, who now live in San Diego but adopted the boy in New York state, want both their names on his birth certificate.
State officials say that’s illegal because, under Louisiana law, two single people cannot adopt a child. Zainey ruled in December that because the adoption became formal in New York, the Office of Vital Records must recognize that state’s adoption law on the matter.
New York officials decided in January that same-sex couples could list both names on their children’s birth certificates.
An assistant attorney general put into evidence a bill prefiled Tuesday, March 17, that would make it illegal to create a birth certificate for anyone who didn’t meet Louisiana’s adoption laws. One single person or a married couple may adopt in Louisiana; unmarried couples may not.
"It’s the Legislature trying to find a way to do what they’ve already been told they can’t constitutionally do," said Kenneth D. Upton Jr., a Lambda Legal attorney representing the men.
The Legislature will convene April 27, and many bills never become law.
Zainey ruled without a trial, saying the facts were so clear that none was needed.
The March 18 hearing was the first since the case began, Upton said.
Caldwell wrote that Louisiana’s law is clear, and federal courts should either honor it or ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to rule "if they really believe this law is unclear."