Louisiana Attorney General Again Appeals Decision Awarding Birth Certificate to Gay Parents of Adopted Son in Lambda Legal Case
(New Orleans, March 4, 2010) – Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell today filed a motion requesting that the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals review a February 20 decision by a three-judge panel ordering the Louisiana Registrar of Vital Statistics to respect a New York adoption by a same-sex couple of a Louisiana-born baby boy and issue an accurate birth certificate listing both parents.
"Clearly, it seems Mr. Caldwell is consumed with his bias against gay parents to the point of being blinded to the harm he is causing children," said Ken Upton, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal, who represented Adar and Smith. "He's certainly showing a lack of concern for this child, who is in the process of attempting to enroll in school – without a birth certificate. The Attorney General's single-minded persecution of a child just because he doesn't approve of the boy's parents not only is legally wrong but also is morally reprehensible. The courts have rejected every attempt he's made not to issue a birth certificate for a very good reason – the Constitution requires states to respect the judgments issued in each other's courts."
A three-member Fifth Circuit panel voted unanimously last month to uphold a lower court ruling in favor of Adar and Smith, a gay couple who adopted their Louisiana-born son in 2006 in New York, where a judge issued an adoption decree. When the couple attempted to get a new birth certificate for their child, in part so Smith could add his son to his health insurance, the registrar's office told him that Louisiana does not recognize adoption by unmarried parents and so could not issue it.
Lambda Legal filed suit on behalf of Adar and Smith in October 2007, saying that the registrar was violating the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution by refusing to recognize the New York adoption. The Constitution requires that judgments and orders issued by a court in one state be legally binding in other states as well. Attorney General Caldwell disagreed, and advised the registrar that she did not have to honor an adoption from another state that would not have been granted under Louisiana law had the couple lived and adopted there. The Attorney General's position has now been rejected by two courts.
Upton also represented Lambda Legal clients before the 10th Circuit in Finstuen v. Crutcher, another case involving same-sex couples with adopted children. The court struck down an Oklahoma law so extreme that it threatened to make children adopted by same-sex couples in other states legal orphans when the families are in Oklahoma. The ruling in that case is important not only in Oklahoma, but also to families across the United States, including in Seattle and Houston, home to two of the families who joined in the suit.
Kenneth D. Upton, Jr., Supervising Senior Staff Attorney is handling the case for Lambda Legal. He is joined by Regina O. Matthews and Spencer R. Doody of Martzell & Bickford in New Orleans.
The case is Adar v. Smith.
Contact: Tom Warnke; 213-382-7600 ex 247;[email protected]
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.