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Louisiana refuses to recognize out of state adoption by Gay couple, boy left in web of legal uncertainty

Sad case winding its way through the courts in Louisiana see,

Birth certificate flap heads back to appeals court

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has won a second chance to prevent the state from having to issue a birth certificate listing two men as the fathers of a baby they adopted through a New York court.

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed Friday to hold a second hearing before the entire panel of 16 judges, reopening a landmark case that gay rights supporters and social conservatives are eyeing closely.

No hearing date was set Friday.

Having lost on both the district level and on first appeal, Caldwell wants the full court to overturn a February ruling by a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit that unanimously ordered the state to issue a revised birth certificate.

U.S. District Court Judge Jay Zainey ruled in favor of the couple in 2008. Because Louisiana provides new birth certificates for Louisiana-born children adopted outside the state — listing the names of the adoptive parents — Zainey concluded that it must provide the same document for this family as well.

Obviously, there are a number of core issues at stake, such as Equal Protection, but there are also linguistic terminology quirks that are playing out in the  particulars of this case, perhaps foremost among them the fact that Louisiana legal statues and code remains undefined in matters of what constitutes an “adoptive parent”:

“Like ’surviving spouse,’ the term ‘adoptive parents’ is nowhere defined in the statute, or elsewhere in the codes or the case law of Louisiana. When we parse the term for its plain meaning, we find that a common dictionary definition of ‘parent’ is ‘father or mother,’ and … the plain meaning of ‘adoptive parents’ is a ‘father or mother who adopts a child.’”

I have written before (see Sewing the scarlet “b”- California’s newest bastards, and other abysmal anti-Queer anti-child bastardization) about what happens when Queer marriages are dismantled or unrecognized by the state, ultimately, it’s the kids in those families who end up dealing with many of the consequences.

For some, particularly those with a vested interest in doing so, it’s very easy to tangle this case up in nonsense or politics, but at the heart of the case remains not only a family, but a boy.

FILE - This Saturday, July 31, 2010 file picture shows oil-contaminated marsh grass in Barataria Bay on the coast of Louisiana. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

This Saturday, July 31, 2010 file picture shows oil-contaminated marsh grass in Barataria Bay on the coast of Louisiana. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

A boy whose everyday ability to deal with things other kids have the luxury of simply taking for granted is now as murky and unpredictable as whether or not the tides will bring more oil up from the gulf waters into the fragile marsh grass.

Uncertainty has left its own indelible mark on the boy’s early childhood years.

Returning to the “birth certificate” article linked above:

The couple sued in 2007, arguing that Smith’s refusal threatened the boy’s enrollment in a health care plan and treated him like a second-class citizen.

It’s their child who would be treated as the son of a single dad (unmarried to his biological mother leaving the boy in that grey area that was once stamped “illegitimate” back in the day) living with a Gay ‘partner’, not listed on the boy’s paperwork should the state’s argument prevail.

Another child, another state, another potential scarlet b. (See my post linked above.)

As always seems to be the case when states pick these fights, it’s the kids and their families who even if they win, still end up ‘paying.’

Most non-adopted people rarely glimpse the hell Bastards can be forced to endure, all over a single piece of paper.

What this can mean in terms of everything from medical coverage to visitation rights if the boy was in a hospital (particularly many religious hospitals) and one Dad was deemed “not legally family” to use medical issues, as but one of many possible examples, rapidly devolves down into a logistical nightmare.

The couple were able to legally adopt the boy in New York, but now that they have him, living in San Diego, when it comes to the day to day practicalities, things suddenly hit a brick wall purely because the state the boy was born in,  Louisiana, is refusing to recognize the New York adoption:

Caldwell advised the registrar that she did not have to honor an adoption from New York that would not have been granted had the couple lived in Louisiana.

Take the word “Gay” out of the picture for one moment and think about that sentence, Louisiana is claiming it doesn’t have to honor or recognize an adoption that was legally finalized in another state.

Now I’m not a lawyer, but even a lay person can usually get their head around the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution.

Quoting from the Wikipedia article on such:

However, in August 2007, a federal appeals court held that the clause did require Oklahoma to recognize adoptions by same-sex couples which were finalized in other states.

circuit court locationsThe ruling (link opens a PDF) was out of the Tenth Circuit.

Louisiana is in the Fifth.

For the time being, at least, this case that began in 2007 continues to keep the boy in a legal limbo. He was all of two years old back when this case attempting to clarify his legal realities started.

Now, three years later, at age 5, his future legal status remains nothing if not still unclear.

This keeps up, he might just have some certainty by the time he graduates high school.

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