Supreme Court: Alabama Must Recognize Out-of-State Same-Sex Adoptions

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Supreme Court: Alabama Must Recognize Out-of-State Same-Sex Adoptions

Jessica Mason Pieklo

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed a ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court refusing to recognize an out-of-state adoption by a same-sex couple.

The United States Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the Alabama Supreme Court overstepped its authority when it refused to recognize an adoption by a parent in a same-sex couple that was granted by a Georgia court.

The order reverses the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling and sends the case back for further proceeding.

The Alabama Supreme Court issued an order in September 2015 refusing to recognize a Georgia woman’s same-sex adoption, declaring it “void.” The court held that the state could refuse to recognize the adoption based on the Alabama Supreme Court’s view that the Georgia court should not have granted the adoption in 2007.

The parent in November asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review her case, arguing that the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision was unprecedented in its refusal to recognize a valid out-of-state adoption. In December 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the Alabama court’s decision, allowing the parent to have visitation with her children while the Roberts Court considered her case.

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“I am overjoyed that the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Alabama court decision,” the adoptive mother, identified in legal documents as V.L., said in a statement following the order. “I have been my children’s mother in every way for their whole lives. 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.”

Monday’s opinion charges that the Alabama Supreme Court had failed to give the order from the Georgia court “full faith and credit.” Under the United States Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause, states are required to respect court judgments, including adoption orders, issued by courts in other states.

“The Supreme Court’s reversal of Alabama’s unprecedented decision to void an adoption from another state is a victory not only for our client but for thousands of adopted families,” Cathy Sakimura, family law director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in a statement. Sakimura represented V.L. in court.

No justices of the U.S. Supreme Court dissented from Monday’s decision.