[JURIST] The Uruguayan Senate [official website, in Spanish] voted 17-6 to approve [press release, in Spanish] a law legalizing adoption by same sex couples. The new law will permit adoptions by couples in both marriages and civil unions after four years of cohabitation. The bill includes other reforms to the Childhood and Adolescence Code [text, PDF, in Spanish], which governs adoptions, including giving the Children's and Adolescents' Institute of Uruguay (INAU) [official website, in Spanish] a more central role in the adoption process, shortening the adoption process, and removing the abandonment determination requirement in favor of an adoptability determination for a child to be eligible for adoption. The Senate initially voted to approve the bill in July, but changes made to the bill in the Uruguayan House of Representatives [official website, in Spanish], which approved [JURIST report] it last moth, necessitated a second vote. The bill continues to generate much controversy among conservative sectors like the Catholic Church, which have voiced strong opposition alleging concern for children's welfare. The bill must now be signed by President Tabare Vazquez [BBC profile], who has expressed support for the reforms.
The Uruguayan common-law relationship law [text, PDF, in Spanish] allows couples to apply to be legally recognized as a civil union after five years of living together regardless of the gender of the parties. It was enacted amid much controversy in December 2007 and went into effect in January 2008. In the US, adoption by same-sex couples continues to be a controversial issue. In November, a Florida court ruled [JURIST report] that a ban on adopting children for same-sex couples was unconstitutional, allowing a couple to adopt two children. The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] upheld [opinion, PDF] the same Florida statute in 2005 as being rationally related to protecting the interests of children, and the US Supreme Court declined to review [WP report] that decision. In November, Arkansas voters approved a ballot measure [JURIST reports] prohibiting gays, lesbians, and other unmarried cohabiting couples from becoming either foster or adoptive parents.