U. S. Court of Appeals Weighs Arguments In Lambda Legal's Case Against Oklahoma's Antigay Adoption Invalidation Law

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"Today, we asked the court to consider how to explain to our clients' children why the government thinks it's a good idea to rip them from their parents."
November 13, 2006

(Denver, November 13, 2006) — The U. S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit heard oral arguments today in the appeal of Lambda Legal’s lawsuit that struck down Oklahoma’s antigay Adoption Invalidation Law.


“Today, we asked the court to consider how to explain to our clients’ children why the government thinks it’s a good idea to rip them from their parents,” said Ken Upton, Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s South Central Regional Office and lead attorney on the case. “The bottom line is that the Adoption Invalidation Law harms children and families, and the district court held that it was unconstitutional and struck it down.”


U. S. District Judge Robin Cauthron wrote in her decision released in May that, “The very fact that the adoptions have occurred is evidence that a court of law has found the adoptions to be in the best interests of the children….To now attempt to strip a child of one of his or her parents seems far removed from the statute’s purpose and therefore from Defendants’ asserted important government objective.”


The Adoption Invalidation Law, hastily passed at the end of the 2004 Oklahoma legislative session, said that Oklahoma “shall not recognize an adoption by more than one individual of the same sex from any other state or foreign jurisdiction.” Lambda Legal argued that the law was unconstitutional based on the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection, due process and right to travel, as well as the mandates of the Full Faith and Credit Clause.


The lower court found that the statute indeed violated the United States Constitution by singling out a specific group for discrimination and upheld all of Lambda Legal’s other claims, except the right to travel.


Oral arguments in the case were heard this afternoon in the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver. Upton argued on behalf of Lambda Legal’s clients before a panel consisting of three judges that serve the 10th Circuit.


Ken Upton, Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s South Central Regional Office in Dallas is Lambda Legal’s lead attorney on the case. He is joined by Lambda Legal Staff Attorney, Brian Chase, and cooperating attorney Sandy Ingraham of Ingraham & Associates, P.L.L.C. in McLoud, Oklahoma.


The case is Finstuen et al v. Edmondson et al.


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Mark Roy: 212-809-8585 ext.267


Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

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