Federal Court to Re-Hear Same-Sex Couple's Challenge After Louisiana Refuses to Respect Out-of-State Adoptions

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Five-year-old son raised by two fathers still without accurate birth certificate.
January 14, 2011
Kenneth D. Upton, Jr.

(New Orleans, January 14, 2011) - The full 16-member U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on Wednesday, January 19, 2011, regarding the New York adoption of a Louisiana-born baby boy by a same-sex couple.

Lambda Legal represents Oren Adar and Mickey Smith in their case against Louisiana State Registrar Darlene Smith. Adar and Smith are 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 and Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by refusing to recognize the New York adoption judgment because the child's parents are unmarried. The Constitution requires that judgments and orders issued by a court in one state be legally binding in other states. Further, a state may not disadvantage some children over others simply because the child's parents are unmarried. The Louisiana attorney general 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. In 2009, U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey ruled against the registrar and issued a summary judgment ordering her to issue a new birth certificate identifying both Oren Adar and Mickey Smith as the boy's parents, saying her continued failure to do so violated the U.S. Constitution. In 2010, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and affirmed the judgment. The attorney general requested a rehearing by the full Court of Appeals, which was granted.

Kenneth Upton Jr., Supervising Senior Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal

Oral Arguments, Adar v. Smith

John Minor Wisdom U.S. Court of Appeals Building
600 Camp St.
New Orleans, Louisiana

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
9:00 a.m.

** Kenneth Upton will be available for interviews immediately following the hearing. **

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.