In Louisiana, unmarried couples may not adopt children, and same-sex marriage is not allowed. As a result, gay couples in Louisiana may not adopt children. This rule against gay adoption makes a great deal of sense, especially for a child who could instead be placed in the home of a husband and wife.
But two men challenged this policy. They had adopted in New York a child who was born in Louisiana, and then sued to force the changing of the child’s birth certificate to show the two men as the parents. Louisiana has a procedure for revising a child’s birth certificate after adoption to include the names of the new adoptive parents. So while gay adoption is not allowed in Louisiana, this court case could have set a precedent for forcing Louisiana to recognize gay adoption on birth certificates. If successful, then this precedent could be used to compel Louisiana to comply with other state laws promoting gay rights.
The two men won in federal district court under the theory that the Full Faith & Credit Clause in the U.S. Constitution requires Louisiana to change its birth certificate rule to recognize New York’s approval of gay adoption. On appeal, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit upheld that decision.
But then Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund entered the case and urged the entire Fifth Circuit to reconsider this matter. Such rehearings are rare, but the entire Fifth Circuit did take the case, reversed the prior rulings, and ordered the lawsuit dismissed. The full Fifth Circuit upheld Louisiana’s law prohibiting adoption by unmarried couples, and also upheld Louisiana’s refusal to change its birth certificate to conform to a more liberal state. This was a total conservative victory against a very clever lawsuit.
This case is Adar v. Smith, 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 7545 (5th Cir. La. Apr. 12, 2011) (en banc)
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