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Breaking: Utah Quietly Seeking ‘Emergency Relief’ To Halt Existing LGBT Adoptions

by Eric Ethington on April 9, 2014

in Civil Rights,Discrimination,Eric Ethington,Legal Issues,Marriage,News,Politics

Post image for Breaking: Utah Quietly Seeking ‘Emergency Relief’ To Halt Existing LGBT Adoptions

Salt Lake City – While the eyes of Utah (and much of the nation) are on the 10th Circuit Court, which will hear oral arguments tomorrow on whether to uphold a lower court’s decision to strike the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, Utah Republican Attorney General Sean Reyes has quietly filed a Petition For Emergency Extraordinary Relief with the Utah Supreme Court to allow the state to halt adoptions by LGBT parents already in motion.

After district court judge Robert Shelby struck down Amendment 3, the 2004 Utah law which banned same-sex marriage and civil unions, dozens of newly-wed couples immediately began filing for adoption. Some couples sought to adopt new children, while others filed to adopt the biological children of their spouses they are already raising (Utah law currently prohibits 2nd parent adoption by anyone not married to their partner).

The suit, filed by the Attorney General on behalf of the Utah Department of Health and the Office of Vital Records and Statistics, is seeking to overturn the rulings of multiple judges in Utah who signed the orders allowing the adoption proceedings to begin prior to the United States Supreme Court granting a stay on Judge Shelby’s ruling.

The Emergency Petition gives the adoptive parents only three days to respond, an extraordinarily limited amount of time for these parents to find an attorney, prepare their arguments/briefs, and file with the court. Not to mention the nightmare of court and legal costs that can pile up on these parents who just finished paying adoption costs.

Utah’s filing with the court adds insult to injury for the parents, claiming that if the Utah Supreme Court does not overturn the adoptions, they themselves will be harmed “as they may wrongly rely upon an illegally-issued birth certificate for other benefits or protections not provided by Utah law.” Utah goes on to ask that the adoptions remain on permanent hold until the State’s appeal of Judge Shelby’s ruling is concluded. Assuming the 10th Circuit Court follows the precedent of multiple other judicial bodies around the country, and upholds the ruling in favor of marriage equality, that means the hold on the adoptions would remain in effect as Utah inevitably appeals all the way to SCOTUS.

Equality Utah shared this story of one of the couples on their Facebook page:

Kimberly and Amber Leary started a family together in November of 2012. In an attempt to provide a safe, stable, nurturing family life for their daughter, as well as a legal framework under the law, Kimberly Leary began adoption proceedings so her daughter would not be a legal stranger to her under Utah law. Kimberly and Amber were legally married in Utah during the 16-day window last year. A judge approved their adoption and today the couple went to the Office of Vital Records and presented the judge’s order to receive a new birth certificate for the baby. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, deliberately instructed the director at the Office of Vital Records to disobey the judge’s order and withhold the birth certificate from Kimberly and Amber Leary, in effect, halting their adoption of their daughter.

Kimberly Leary “We are only asking for the state to comply with the court’s order to issue an amended birth certificate in our adoption case. To us, this is about creating a safe, and stable home for our daughter and making sure she has the kind of loving, nurturing environment that will allow her to thrive and succeed.”

Brandie Balken of Equality Utah, “This is unheard of and very disappointing. The state is asking the Utah Supreme Court to tell them they don’t have to follow the orders of judges who have granted adoptions. Enabling all children to become a part of permanent, lifelong families should be a defining goal of our state.”

Meanwhile, Utah’s case against marriage equality tomorrow will rely almost exclusively on the thoroughly debunked study by Mark Regnerus, as they argue that same-sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to get married because children need to be protected from them.

See the full filing below (courtesy of openly-gay Utah State Senator Jim Dabakis).

Utah Attorney General's Petition for Emergency Extraordinary Relief to the US Supreme Court by James Dabakis

Image via Facebook

Follow Author Eric Ethington on Twitter @EricEthington

Eric EthingtonEric Ethington has been specializing in political messaging, communications strategy, and public relations for more than a decade. Originally hailing from Salt Lake City, he now works in Boston for a social justice think tank. Eric’s writing, advocacy work, and research have been featured on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, the New York Times, The Telegraph, and The Public Eye magazine. He’s worked as a radio host, pundit, blogger, activist and electoral campaign strategist. He also writes at

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BeerandOnion April 9, 2014 at 5:13 pm

I wanted to post, "Bigotry know no bounds." But, the real ugliness is that this bigotry is religious based. The Christian Right continues to cherry-pick their scripture and it continues to try to force non-Christians to live under their beliefs.

BearFlagCitizen April 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Dear Utah,

Please explain to these children, why you do not want them to have loving parents who want to adopt them.

sfbob April 9, 2014 at 6:20 pm

o it's going to be up to each individual couple to find an attorney and file a response within three days? That's unspeakably vile. I wonder if there's a way to contest this sort of thing on a class-action basis?

I also wonder what the state will do if, by some miracle of momentary judicial sanity, the state supreme court actually does its duty and protects the interests of the adoptive parents and children.

dbcexplorer April 10, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Meanwhile the AG QUIETLY files a petition to halt adoptions. Talking about vile!

BJLincoln April 9, 2014 at 7:05 pm

It is just plain meanness. They have no reason to deny the adoptions but they would rather hurt as many families as they can until they are court ordered to stop. It is hard to believe there are Americans so hell bent on hurting others over something no one can control or change.

Str8Grandmother April 10, 2014 at 6:03 am

Those Bastards! I can only hope that an uprising of attorneys in Utah step forward and agree to represent these families pro bono!

exoraluna April 9, 2014 at 7:53 pm

te.hehe. I thought I read: Eric Ethington, He also writes at

sam3915 April 10, 2014 at 4:50 am

Utah's state government (i.e all Utah's Attorney Generals, including Sean Reyes), most local Utah governments, and all of Utah's Congressional delegation are in fact agents and operating arms of the controlling, corrupt & dishonest top Mormon Church leaders, especially mob boss Tommy "The Poisoner" Monson — falsely & grotesquely viewed as the righteous, virtually-infallible & almost-a-God Mormon Church President and "Prophet" Thomas S. Monson. Many pseudo-independent, dirty-tricks/false-propaganda groups that oppose same-sex marriage in Utah, nationally, and even world-wide are also just agents and operating arms of the Mormon Church & their ever-greedier, thieving, amoral filthy-rich partners (i.e. the Koch brothers). There is no legitimate, fact-based reason for opposing same-sex marriage. There's only unproven and unprovable religious dogma and — behind that — the need of the rich & powerful accomplices of the Nazi pseudo-religious for scapegoats to divert attention from their greed and wrongdoing.

Bose_in_SP_MN April 10, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Wow, heartbreaking for the families under attack by their own government.

We're in a new phase of the marriage equality battle, it seems to me. We know that equality will prevail, but not how low opponents will stoop. Gracious losers? Clearly, no. Sore losers? No, still lower. Vicious losers? Yeah, that works for me.

These folks would do well to crack a history book open on what standing in the schoolhouse door did for George Wallace's reputation. Sure, it made him an icon of the civil rights movement, but not in a good way. I'm gobsmacked that anyone in the present day finds his example worth emulating.

hyhybt April 23, 2014 at 12:56 pm

So: it's been quite a bit longer than three days. Any update on this?

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