July 11, 2011
By Adam Bink
In my inbox, from Kevin Cathcart at Lambda Legal:
Today Lambda Legal asked the United States Supreme Court to hear our case on behalf of Oren Adar and Mickey Smith, two dads who have been denied an accurate birth certificate for their son by the state of Louisiana. Louisiana insists they do not have to respect a court-ordered adoption from another state and they won’t do so for the son of Oren and Mickey because they are an unmarried couple.
We think the state of Louisiana is wrong, and their actions are discriminatory and unconstitutional.
Asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a case is a big step and we do not take it lightly. In our petition, Lambda Legal argues that the State of Louisiana is violating both the equal protection and full faith and credit provisions of the Constitution, and they are punishing a child because they disapprove of his parents. We have to do everything we can to fight back.
The absence of an accurate birth certificate has been a hardship for the family as they struggled to enroll their child in their health insurance and in pre-school. While boarding a flight, the couple was asked to provide the child’s birth certificate to prove he was their child.
Lambda Legal first filed suit on behalf of Oren and Mickey in October 2007, when the Louisiana attorney general advised the registrar that she did not have to honor an adoption from another state that would not have been granted under Louisiana law. We won at the federal trial court in 2009, but the Louisiana attorney general appealed the decision. In 2010, we won again: A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the judgment. The attorney general requested a rehearing by the full Court of Appeals and we suffered a disappointing setback this spring when a sharply divided court overturned the prior decisions.
Today’s petition to the U.S Supreme court argues that the Fifth Circuit’s ruling ignores nearly one hundred years of well-established Supreme Court law and conflicts with other federal circuits across the country. Left untouched, it carves out an exception to the uniformly recognized respect for judgments that states have come to rely upon and leaves adopted children and their parents vulnerable in their interactions with officials from other states.
We’ve won this fight before. Lambda Legal represented a same-sex couple who adopted a child in California and later moved to Oklahoma. The Oklahoma legislature actually passed a law refusing to recognize any out-of-state adoption by a same-sex couple. Because of our legal challenge, that law was found unconstitutional by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and struck down.