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Federal appeals court orders state to put both gay parents' names on birth certificate

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Thursday that the state of Louisiana must issue a revised birth certificate for the adopted child of a same-sex couple showing both fathers' names. In 2006, Oren Adar and Mickey Ray Smith adopted their child in New York, where unmarried couples can legally adopt. The child was born in Louisiana, and the state refused to issue a birth certificate naming both fathers. The appeals court held that Louisiana is required to give full faith and credit to the New York adoption decree, upholding the judgment [opinion, PDF] of the district court. The appeals court described the weight of precedent in favor of the parents:

[T]here is virtually universal acknowledgment that Louisiana owes full faith and credit to the New York adoption decree and must recognize that the Adoptive Parents are [the] legal parents. Numerous authorities hold that a state must afford out-of-state adoption decrees full faith and credit. The parental rights and status of the Adoptive Parents, as adjudicated by the New York court, are not confined within that state's borders and do not cease to exist at Louisiana's borders.

Adar and Smith were represented by Lambda Legal [advocacy website], which praised [press release] the court's unanimous decision.

Lambda Legal successfully argued a similar case [JURIST report] in 2007, when the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit struck down an amendment [press release] to the Oklahoma constitution that would have prevented the state from recognizing adoptions by gay parents that were finalized in other US or foreign jurisdictions. Same-sex adoptive parents have recently been involved in numerous legal battles [JURIST news archive]. In 2008, a Florida trial court judge ruled [JURIST report] that a Florida statute preventing same-sex couples from adopting children was unconstitutional. Also that year, voters in Arkansas approved a ballot measure [JURIST reports] prohibiting gays, lesbians, and other unmarried cohabiting couples from becoming either foster or adoptive parents.

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