Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Oklahoma's Anti-Gay Adoption Policy Under Fire

(Link) When same-sex couples are afraid to even take their adopted kids to visit the state, you know something's wrong. Lambda Legal lawsuit takes on the harshest anti-gay measures in the country.

3 comments:

LNewsEditor said...

JIC Post:
By Ann Rostow
PlanetOut Network

Lambda Legal took aim at one of the harshest anti-gay measures in the country. Passed in April 2004, the amendment to the Oklahoma state adoption code ensures that Oklahoma will not recognize "an adoption by more than one individual of the same sex from any other state or foreign jurisdiction."

Lambda asked a federal judge in Oklahoma's western district to strike the amendment on several constitutional grounds. Not only does the provision ignore the mandate that all states give full faith and credit to the judgments of sister states, lawyers argue, but the law also contravenes the equal protection and due process rights of adoptive parents and their children, and burdens interstate travel.

An adoption, once given the force of law by a court in any jurisdiction, is considered sacrosanct. Adoptive parents assume a legal status no different from that enjoyed by biological parents, and no less permanent. More than half the states allow gay partners to adopt each other's biological children, and several allow same-sex couples to adopt jointly. Lambda's three plaintiff families belong in both these categories.

From Washington state, gay fathers Gregory Hampel and Edmund Swaya adopted an Oklahoma-born baby, pledging that the girl would visit her birth mother and get to know her Oklahoma roots. Their successful fight to convince state authorities to issue a revised birth certificate inspired the Legislature to pass the anti-gay statute. Now, the men are wary of taking their daughter to Oklahoma, fearing that their lack of legal status could backfire if anything were to go wrong on such a trip.

The measure also caught Lucy and Jennifer Doel by surprise. Their 5-year-old was born in Oklahoma, but adopted in two separate court actions in California in 2002. The women moved to Oklahoma later that year, and now find themselves in limbo. Likewise, Heather Finstuen, who adopted her partner's biological children in New Jersey before the family moved to the Sooner State, now worries that her position as a parent could be undermined at any time.

As Lambda writes in its 34-page motion, the Supreme Court brooks "no roving 'public policy' exception to the full faith and credit due judgments" under the Constitution.

Further, parental rights are given exceptional deference in U.S. constitutional law, and considered fundamental. Any law that burdens parental authority must theoretically be justified by a compelling state interest. Oklahoma's House Media Division explained that passing the ban on recognizing gay adoptive families would "protect Oklahoma children from being targeted for adoption by gay couples across the nation," and "ensure that children are raised in traditional family environments."

Far from amounting to compelling state interests, Lambda says, these rationales are flat expressions of anti-gay prejudice, and fail to meet the lowest legal standards.

heroine films said...

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Saw your blog...thought it was interesting and of worthy opinion. ;)

you rock! just wanted to say hey.

m & the gals @ HF

LNewsEditor said...

Why thanks, grrls!


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