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).
Image via Facebook
Follow Author Eric Ethington on Twitter @EricEthington
Eric 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 NuanceStillMatters.com
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