April 2016 Church & State - April 2016

U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Ala. Adoption Ruling

  AU admin

Alabama must recognize adoptions by same-sex couples that were legalized in other states, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in March.

The decision overturned an earlier verdict from the Alabama Supreme Court, which found that the state of Georgia had erred by recognizing a lesbian woman’s adoption of the three children she shared with her former partner.

The woman, identified in court documents as V.L., and her family lived in Alabama from 1995 to 2011, but the couple briefly moved to Georgia in 2006 to have the adoption recognized.

When the couple split in 2011, V.L.’s former partner refused to allow her visitation rights. V.L. sued in Alabama, asking the state’s courts to enforce the adoption decree. But the supreme court, led by Chief Justice Roy Moore, refused and declared the adoption “void” even though it had been recognized by another state’s courts.

 “The Georgia judgement appears on its face to have been issued by a court with jurisdiction, and there is no established Georgia law to the contrary,” the U.S.  Supreme Court ruled. “It follows that the Alabama Supreme Court erred in refusing to grant that judgment full faith and credit.”

The high court overturned the Alabama ruling via a summary decision, an unusual procedure whereby the court acts without hearing oral argument.

In a statement to media, V.L. said she was “overjoyed” by the verdict.

“I have been my children’s mother in every way for their whole lives,” V.L. said. “I thought that adopting them meant that we would be able to be together always. When the Alabama court said my adoption was invalid and I wasn’t their mother, I didn’t think I could go on. The Supreme Court has done what’s right for my family.” (V.L. v. E.L.)

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