High court denies appeal from gay couple seeking accurate birth certificate for adopted child

Ken Upton

Ken Upton

In a setback for same-sex parenting rights, the nation’s high court today refused to hear a challenge of a Louisiana policy barring gay couples from obtaining accurate birth certificates for their adopted children. Lambda Legal reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court today denied Lambda Legal’s petition for a writ of certiorari in the case of a same-sex couple seeking an accurate birth certificate for their Louisiana-born son whom they adopted in New York. The Louisiana state registrar has refused to recognize the adoption and issue a birth certificate listing both fathers as the boy’s parents.

“By denying this writ, the Supreme Court is leaving untouched a dangerous Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that carves out an exception to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution and to the uniformly recognized respect for judgments that states have come to rely upon,” said Kenneth D. Upton, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s South Central Regional Office in Dallas. “This decision leaves adopted children and their parents vulnerable in their interactions with officials from other states.”

“More particularly, this decision leaves a child without an accurate birth certificate listing both his parents,” Upton added. “This issue now moves into the legislative arena. We need to push for a change in Louisiana state policy in order to stabilize and standardize respect for parent-child relationships for all adoptive children.”

Lambda Legal represents Oren Adar and Mickey Smith in their case against Louisiana State Registrar Darlene Smith. Adar and Smith are a gay couple who adopted their Louisiana-born son in 2006 in New York, where a judge issued an adoption decree. When the couple attempted to get a new birth certificate for their child, in part so Smith could add his son to his health insurance, the registrar’s office told him that Louisiana does not recognize adoption by unmarried parents and would not issue it with both adopted parents’ names.

Upton, who’s based in Dallas, has said he’s also interested in challenging Texas’ statute, which says the adoptive parents listed on an amended birth certificate must be a man and a woman. State Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, introduced a bill this year that would have allowed same-sex couples to have both their names on adoptive birth certificates, but the bill didn’t make it out of committee.

“This case has direct implications for TX, which does not provide accurate birth certificates for adopted children with same-sex parents,” Equality Texas wrote this morning on Facebook in response to the Supreme Court’s denial of the couple’s appeal. “This must be corrected! … If you have legally adopted children who cannot get an accurate amended birth certificate in TX, please contact Info@EqualityTexas.org.”

—  John Wright

Tennessee DMV refuses to give woman a driver’s license with new last name after her legal same-sex marriage in D.C.

The full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution says that each state has to respect the “public acts, records and judicial proceedings” of the other states in this country. Traditionally, that has been understood to include legally contracted marriages. But, of course, Congress in 1996 passed the Defense of Marriage Act — or DOMA — which says the federal government will not recognize legal same-sex marriages and which allows individual states to refuse to  recognize legal same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.

So, we get situations like this, documented by WUSA9.com in in Washington, D.C.:

Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) has challenged that portion of DOMA that prohibits federal recognition of legal same-sex marriages, and a decision is pending in a Massachusetts court in that case. And of course, a decision is also pending in a California federal court in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the California constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

There are other arguments for giving federal recognition to same-sex marriages and for requiring all states to recognize a legally contracted same-sex marriage from any state. Some arguments are based on the Constitution’s equal protection clause; some involve separation of church and state. And of course, there’s the basic idea of fairness — you know, that whole “liberty and justice for all” thing?

Who knows how it’s all going to wind up. But I am pretty sure it is going to take a U.S. Supreme Court ruling to settle it one way or another. And even that might not be the final word. One thing I do know, until it is settled, we’re going to keep hearing stories like Traci Turpin’s. And that is not fair.

—  admin