Lambda Legal Urges Puerto Rico's Supreme Court to Grant Second-Parent Adoption to Lesbian and Gay Parents

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"Children have a right to a legal relationship with both their parents."
March 8, 2013

(New York, March 7, 2013) — Today, Lambda Legal and Fundación Artículo II filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Puerto Rico's Supreme Court urging the Court to reconsider and reverse its erroneous February 20 ruling in Matter of A.A.R., and either grant a second-parent adoption to a lesbian couple or hold their case until the federal Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8. The Supreme Court ruling on DOMA may provide a clearer road map for lower courts on how to review laws that single out and target LGBT people for discrimination.

"Children have a right to a legal relationship with both their parents," said Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Lambda Legal Staff Attorney. "Banning same-sex couples from adoption harms children and families by denying them access to legal protections.  Excluding same-sex couples from adoption also suggests that lesbians and gay men are unworthy of parenting, and their children are unworthy of legal recognition.  Puerto Rico's adoption law condemns same-sex couples – and their children – to an inferior and stigmatized second-class status.  It is also out of step with an increasing number of jurisdictions that actively seek to protect children and families--regardless of the sexual orientation of the parents."

Last month Puerto Rico's Supreme Court upheld a ban on second-parent adoption after a lesbian couple petitioned the court to allow the non-biological mother to adopt the child she and her partner of 20 years are raising together. The Court also said that it was a matter for the legislature to decide.   After waiting 8 years for the ruling, the mothers filed a motion asking the Court to reconsider.

In the friend-of-the-court brief filed today, Lambda Legal argues that constitutional protections should never be contingent on legislative action because it is the duty of the judiciary to protect an individual's right to equal protection.  Lambda Legal asks the Court to grant the couple's second-parent adoption. The brief further argues that if the Court is not going to grant the second-parent adoption, the case should be placed on hold pending a decision in the DOMA and Prop 8 cases currently before the federal Supreme Court. Resolution of these cases may provide a clearer road map for lower courts on how to review laws targeting LGBT people and their families for discriminatory treatment.  

Read the brief here:

Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Staff Attorney, is handling this matter for Lambda Legal.  Attorney Rafael Mayoral Morales provided pro bono assistance in Puerto Rico.

** Espinoza-Madrigal is fluent in Spanish**