(c) by Mary Griggs
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Tuesday that a Louisiana registrar’s refusal to put two fathers name on the birth certificate for their adoptive child does not violate the child’s right to equal protection under the law.
Adoptive parents Oren Adar and Mickey Smith initially sued the registrar to get both their names on the certificate. In Louisiana, adopted children get new birth certificates with their new parents’ names on them.
Initially, a federal district court judge ruled in the men’s favor and the state of Louisiana appealed. A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit upheld the ruling last year and the state of Louisiana immediately sought a rehearing by the full court. Chief Judge Edith Jones wrote for a nine-member majority, rejecting the men’s argument that Louisiana illegally treats adoptive children of unmarried parents differently from adoptive children with married parents.
One of the judges noted in his dissent that Louisiana puts the names of both unmarried parents on the birth certificates of children kept by their biological parents. He said the state has no legitimate interest in denying that same right to adoptive parents Adar and Smith. Essentially the judges in the majority are arguing that while it is unconstitutional to discriminate against a child born to an unmarried couple, it is not unconstitutional to discriminate against a child adopted by an unmarried couple.
Also at issue was whether the constitutional requirement that states give “full faith and credit” to each other’s laws required the inclusion of both men’s names on the birth certificate of the child. Saying New York recognizes both men as parents, Judge Wiener wrote in his dissent, “I have searched the Constitution in vain for a ‘Half Faith and Credit Clause.’”
This decision is not only an unbelievable slap in the face to this poor family who only wants to provide for their son but it is a disgrace for Louisiana to perpetuate bigotry at the expense of children.
And expense is right—it must have cost thousands of dollars to fund these multiple appeals and thousands more keeping kids who could otherwise find loving homes in the state system.
There are far too many children that are in foster care and need loving, caring parents. Every major professional association, representing millions of doctors, lawyers, and social workers worldwide dedicated to children’s health and welfare, agree that gay and lesbian parents are as capable and successful at raising well adjusted children as heterosexual parents.
Those who support equality and fairness need to stand up for these vulnerable children and support those qualified individuals, no matter their sexual orientation, who want to adopt. The adoption process has excellent safeguards in place that involves social workers, District Attorneys, and Judges. It doesn’t need politicians meddling in this issue as a way to push their theocratic and homophobic agenda.
The Forum for Equality strongly believes that Louisiana’s adoption law currently hurts many children by allowing only one of the adults parenting a child to become the legal adoptive parent when the parents are unmarried or of the same sex. This policy undermines a child’s financial, legal, and emotional security.