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Even After SCOTUS Gay Couples Having To Fight To Be Legally Recognized As Parents Of Their Children

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Even though the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality last month, some state officials are choosing to claim the court ruling does not apply to state adoption laws.

The Supreme Court of the United States legalized marriage for same-sex couples last month nationwide, but some are still facing challenges of being legally recognized as the parents to their own children. When states refuse to allow same-sex couples the ability to list both of their names on their child’s birth certificate, it creates a long list of problems that can jeopardize the child’s safety. For example, it can create a barrier when the couple tries to add their child to the health insurance plan of the parent not listed on the birth certificate. Also, the parent not listed on the birth certificate could be denied the ability to make medical decisions for their own child. And if one parent dies, that child can be legally considered an orphan, unless the parents endure a lengthy and expensive step-parent or second-parent adoption process.

Couples across the country have stepped up to fight for legal recognition as parents to their own children. Below is a summary of some of the struggles currently taking place.

 

ARKANSAS

Three female same-sex couples that conceived through anonymous sperm donors are suing the Arkansas Department of Health for refusing to allow both spouses to be named on their children’s birth certificates. The lawsuit says that by refusing to add the names of both parents on the birth certificates, the state is jeopardizing a number of benefits, including insurance and inheritance, for the children.

The couples are asking for state laws regarding rights of parents in relation to their children to be updated so that the laws are gender-neutral. They are also asking the Pulaski County Circuit Court to prevent the state from denying two people of the same gender to be listed as parents on birth certificates.

ARIZONA

After the 9th Circuit ruling legalized marriage equality in Arizona, Lenora and Leticia Reyes-Petroff (who were married in California in 2013) tried to take advantage of a program that offered free legal services for adoptions, but were denied service because the program did not apply to same-sex couples. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery refused to help with non-contested adoptions because he claimed court rulings making same-sex marriage legal didn’t apply to state adoption laws.

Earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona sent a letter to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office threatening to sue if the county did not drop their policy of denying legal assistance to same-sex couples seeking to adopt. Last week, in a pass the buck workaround, Montgomery has decided to farm out the services to private lawyers.

FLORIDA

Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill last month that repealed Florida’s gay adoption ban. The new law went into effect on July 1.

Even though Scott signed the bill, he made a statement that he wanted the Florida Legislature to pass a bill allowing taxpayer funded adoption agencies to refuse qualified prospective parents based on sexual orientation if the agencies cited a sincerely held religious belief.

“To be clear, some of our faith-based child placement agencies do not place children in homes with same sex parents, and this is a matter of their sincerely held religious beliefs, consistent with religious freedom rights granted in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and in Article I of the Florida Constitution,” Scott said in a memo attached to his signature. “It is my hope and expectation that the Legislature will take future action to make clear that we will support private, faith-based operations in the child welfare system and ensure that their religious convictions continue to be protected.”

UTAH

Angie and Kami Roe were married in Utah on December 20, 2013, the first day it became legal for same-sex couples to marry in the state. The couple decided to have a child together, and through intrauterine insemination, Kami gave birth to a baby in February 2015. They sued the state of Utah because the State Office of Vital Records and Statistics refuses to recognize Angie as a parent on their daughter’s birth certificate. Under Utah’s assisted reproduction statute, the husband of a woman who conceives with donated sperm is automatically recognized as the child’s parent, but state attorneys are arguing that the automatic parentage does not extend to same-sex unions.

The Adoption/Court Order Specialist told the Roes that Angie would need to adopt her own child through a step-parent adoption, an adoption process that costs hundreds of dollars and would require Angie to submit to a thorough background check by the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification and the Utah Division of Child and Family Services. On top of that, Angie and Kami would have to wait until a judge schedules a hearing on their adoption petition to get approval for Angie to be recognized as a parent to her own child. This would leave their baby in a vulnerable situation if something were to happen to Kami and Angie was not legally allowed to care for their child. 

Late yesterday a federal court judge ruled that the State of Utah must treat same-sex parents just as they would treat different-sex parents.

The court documents are posted on ACLU’s website if you’d like to learn more about the case. 

 

Have you faced challenges as an LGBT parent? If so, share your experience with us in the comments section below.

Image by Alisdare Hickson via Flickr and a CC license 

 

NCRM writer Eric Rosswood is the author of the upcoming book, The Journey to Parenthood, which helps same-sex couples understand the differences between the various parenting options including adoption, surrogacy, fostering, assisted reproduction, and co-parenting. The book includes firsthand stories from same-sex couples, legal advice, and checklists to help people decide which path is best for them. For more information on his book, visit www.ericrosswood.com.

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BREAKING NEWS

Trump Lawyer’s ‘Critical Evidence’ Will Help DOJ Make Decision to Charge ‘Without Significant Delay’: Former Prosecutor

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Donald Trump‘s attorney Evan Corcoran, who allegedly directed another Trump attorney to draft the false statement claiming all classified and sensitive documents had been returned, has been ordered to testify before a grand jury and hand over documents and records to Special Counsel Jack Smith in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents criminal investigation.

Trump appealed U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell’s decision ordering Corcoran to testify and hand over documents, including handwritten notes. The Appeals Court in light speed mode, rejected Trump’s appeal.

Corcoran will be testifying before the grand jury on Friday, CNN reports.

RELATED: ‘National Security Implications’: Former DOJ Official Speculates on Ruling Ordering Trump Attorney to Hand Over Docs

One former top DOJ official, Brandon Van Grack, says the “Special Counsel is about to get access to the most critical evidence in the case. Should allow DOJ to make a charging decision without significant delay.”

He did not define what “without significant delay” means in terms of days, weeks, or months.

Van Grack served at Main Justice for eleven years, including as a lead prosecutor in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, and later, as the Chief of the DOJ’s Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) Unit.

“The announcement from a panel of three judges in the appeals court – less than a day after Trump sought to put Corcoran’s testimony on hold – adds momentum to the special counsel investigation as it seeks to secure evidence that could make or break a federal criminal case against Trump,” CNN explains. “The Justice Department has successfully argued in court that prosecutors have enough evidence that Trump’s interactions with the lawyer were part of a possible crime that they can pierce the confidentiality of the conversations between the two.”

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BREAKING NEWS

‘National Security Implications’: Former DOJ Official Speculates on Ruling Ordering Trump Attorney to Hand Over Docs

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A former top Dept. of Justice official says a federal judge’s expedited ruling ordering an attorney for Donald Trump to testify against his client before a grand jury and hand over documents very well may be related to “national security.”

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ruled that DOJ Special Counsel Jack Smith had successfully made the case Donald Trump may have committed a crime, via his attorneys, in his classified documents case. That finding allowed her to invoke the crime-fraud exception, and order Trump attorney Evan Corcoran to testify before the grand jury investigating the ex-president’s unlawful retention and refusal to return hundreds of classified documents.

Former FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann, who also worked for Special Counsel Robert Mueller and headed the DOJ’s Criminal Fraud Section, Wednesday afternoon on MSNBC said it’s possible Judge Howell’s expedited decisions were related to national security.

Tuesday night Judge Howell ordered DOJ to provide information by 6:00 AM Wednesday.

READ MORE: Jim Jordan’s Attack on Manhattan DA Will ‘Backfire’ and Allow Democrats to Expose Coordination With Trump: Columnist

Trump appealed Howell’s ruling, and Wednesday afternoon the Appeals Court denied his appeal related to the documents, Politico reports.

“I’ve never seen anything that quick. It’s very hard to know why. I have to say, to me, when I think about what can be a plausible reason– and this is pure speculation – is that there must be something in the papers that gave the judges concern about national security implications, because it’s such a short timeframe.”

“The reason this is a bombshell is you could end up with Evan Corcoran as a key, fundamental witness against Donald Trump in an obstruction of justice case and a false statements case,” Weissmann adds.

According to Politico, Wednesday’s appeals court ruling “effectively permits the Justice Department to circumvent Trump’s attorney-client privilege after a lower-court judge found that the documents likely contain evidence of a crime.”

NEW: Trump Lawyer’s ‘Critical Evidence’ Will Help DOJ Make Decision to Charge ‘Without Significant Delay’: Former Prosecutor

 

This article was updated to correctly spell Andrew Weissmann’s last name.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Trump Appeals After Judge Agrees With Special Counsel on Crime-Fraud Exception and Requires His Attorney to Testify

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Donald Trump’s attorneys have appealed a ruling that requires one of his lawyers to testify before a grand jury investigating his unlawful removal, retention, and refusal to return classified documents from the White House.

Attorneys for the Special Counsel “said there is evidence of a deliberate effort not to turn over all the material covered by the subpoena,” The Washington Post reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell had reportedly agreed with Special Counsel Smith that there is sufficient evidence proving Donald Trump may have committed a crime via his attorneys, and ruled his attorney must testify before a grand jury. The ruling, which was not made public, was handed down Friday night, NBC News reported Wednesday afternoon.

Judge Howell “ruled in favor of applying the ‘crime fraud’ exception to Trump’s attorney-client privilege and ordered Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran to testify before the federal grand jury.”

READ MORE: ‘On Standby’: Experts Say Manhattan Hush Money Grand Jury Delay ‘Not All That Surprising’

Trump’s attorneys have already appealed the ruling.

“People familiar with the matter said an appeals panel has already begun reviewing the decision, after Trump’s lawyers appealed,” The Washington Post adds. “The extraordinarily quick timeline suggests that the judges — all nominated by Democratic presidents — intend to rule swiftly.”

Trump could take his case all the way to the Supreme Court, but The Post says it’s “not clear he would have a much better chance of success there.”

According to an NBC News report from October, Corcoran directed another Trump attorney, Christina Bobb, to sign the letter claiming a thorough search of Mar-a-Lago had been made and all classified or “sensitive” documents had been returned. That was proven untrue after federal agents, executing a search warrant, recovered hundreds of documents with classified markings.

NEW: ‘National Security Implications’: Former DOJ Official Speculates on Ruling Ordering Trump Attorney to Hand Over Docs

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