- The Washington Times - Monday, March 7, 2016

The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously reversed an Alabama court ruling that refused to recognize a lesbian woman’s adoption from another state.

The woman, identified as “V.L.” in court documents, brought suit against her former same-sex partner, “E.L.,” who gave birth to three children using a donor from 2002 to 2004 when the couple were still together.

The couple established temporary residence in neighboring Georgia to grant V.L. adoptive custody of the children. But after they moved to Alabama, the couple’s relationship ended bitterly.

“I have been my children’s mother in every way for their whole lives,” V.L. said in a statement issued by her attorney. “When the Alabama court said my adoption was invalid and I wasn’t their mother, I didn’t think I could go on. The Supreme Court has done what’s right for my family.”

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled that the Georgia court misapplied its own state law by granting V.L. adoptive custody of the children. But the Supreme Court reversed that decision, ruling that the Alabama court violated the Constitution’s full faith and credit clause, which requires states to respect the “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.”

“A state law may not disregard the judgment of a sister state because it disagrees with the reasoning underlying the judgment or deems it to be wrong on the merits,” the Supreme Court’s reversal said.

“It follows that the Alabama Supreme Court erred in refusing to grant that judgment in full faith and credit,” it added.

Pro-gay groups nationwide praised the decision as a win for the rights of same-sex parents.

“Any attempt to deny legal rights to our families is reprehensible, and this ruling establishes that bias and discrimination cannot be allowed to undermine the bond between LGBT parents and their children,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, adding that the case sets a “firm precedent for others across our nation.”

Cathy Sakimura, law director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights and one of several lawyers who represented V.L., said the decision is a victory for all families with adopted children.

“No adoptive parent or child should have to face the uncertainty and loss of being separated after their adoption just because another state’s court disagrees with the law that was applied in their adoption,” Ms. Sakimura told The Associated Press.

Travis Weber, a lawyer at the Family Research Council, said he agrees with the ruling “insofar as it addresses a jurisdictional issue.”

“If you look at the reasoning of the decision, what they’re basically saying is Alabama, under the full faith and credit requirements, can’t just question Georgia’s decision in the case,” Mr. Weber said.

He also said the case underscores the instability inherent in families headed by same-sex couples.

“I think there are a multitude of family problems now that we’ve brought on ourselves by altering the structure of the family and marriage law that I think you see in one way manifesting itself in this case,” Mr. Weber said. “It’s a real mess if you look at the parties and what’s happened to them. It’s almost sad to see what’s happened in this case to the kids and the two women who are trying to do this.

“It’s a real mess and not helpful to any of them, but that’s a separate question from the law,” he said, adding that the case could set a judicial precedent and influence how states craft adoption laws.

The Supreme Court had blocked the Alabama court’s ruling while it considered the merits of the case, temporarily restoring V.L.’s visitation rights. The justices handed down the decision without scheduling the case for oral argument and a full briefing.

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