- Associated Press - Thursday, April 9, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery says the advent of same-sex marriage in Arizona didn’t affect adoption laws, and his office has turned away a same-sex couple seeking help to arrange a stepparent adoption for one of the spouses.

Lenora and Leticia Reyes-Petroff was rebuffed when they requested help from Montgomery’s office after discovering that it provides free help to couples with uncontested adoptions, the Arizona Republic (http://goo.gl/1udyQJ ) reported.

Arizona’s same-sex marriage ban was overturned in a federal judge’s Oct. 19 ruling that relied on an earlier 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that legalized same-sex marriage in two other states in its jurisdiction.

Montgomery said the appellate court’s Oct. 8 ruling dealt with marriage, not adoption.

“The 9th Circuit opinion specifically addressed marriage,” he said. “It didn’t address adoptions.”

Arizona adoption law refers to a “husband and wife” and to a “married man and woman.”

Lenora Reyes-Petroff said same-sex couples shouldn’t have to hire a private attorney for legal assistance that an opposite-sex couple can get for free.

“It certainly seems the law is on our side, but the county attorney doesn’t want to help us like they help everyone else,” she said.

The couple, both 34, married in California in 2013, and in 2014, they had a child conceived through artificial insemination.

Maricopa County Superior Court does not keep statistics on same-sex adoptions, but adoption attorney Claudia Work said she has already handled a dozen of them since December.

Arizona law currently requires county attorneys to provide adoption-assistance services, though a bill approved by the Legislature and awaiting action by Gov. Doug Ducey would make providing that assistance discretionary, not mandatory.

Montgomery’s office supported the bill. A lobbyist for the office said during March 4 testimony before a Senate committee that the bill was intended to provide flexibility in tight budget situations.

The lobbyist, Rebecca Baker, said the office would continue to provide adoption assistance if it has the resources to do so and would not set criteria to help some people but not others if resources are short.

“There’s not going to be a system of picking and choosing which persons (we) perform an adoption for,” Baker told the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

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Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com

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