By Tyler Pruett
WASHINGTON, D.C..— The nation’s highest court overturned an Alabama Supreme Court ruling on Monday regarding the validity of a same-sex adoption. The United States Supreme Court on Monday sided with a lesbian mother who wants to see her adopted children after splitting up with her partner of sixteen years, overturning an earlier decision by the Alabama court that the adoption was invalid, barring her from any visitation rights to the three children.
The couple, referred to in the court proceedings as “V.L.” and “E.L.,” had planned for and used donor insemination to conceive the children. While living in Alabama, the couple rented a home in Georgia. In order for V.L., the non-biological mother, to have parental rights over the children she had to file for adoption in the Georgia courts. The adoption was approved, but in April of this year the couple split, with E.L., the biological mother, seeking sole custody and refusing visitation to the former partner. On September 18, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled the Georgia adoption invalid, blocking V.L. from visitation rights and refusing to recognize her as a parent. After the ruling on Monday, the non-paternal mother will be able to appeal for visitation rights with the children she has not seen in eight months.
The non-biological mother appealed the Alabama order declaring the adoption “void” to the United States Supreme Court, on the grounds that it clearly violated the “Full Faith and Credit” clause of the constitution. This century-old clause establishes the precedent that states are required to respect court judgments of other states, regardless of their own laws, to include adoption. The Alabama court found that Georgia did not apply its own laws properly regarding the adoption. The Supreme Court found that Alabama broke with a clear precedence, and that due to the “Full Faith and Credit” clause, Georgia’s adoption laws and rulings are not open to interpretation by another state’s court.
Earlier this year, Alabama’s highest court ordered probate judges across the state not to issue same-sex marriage licenses after federal district court invalidated the state’s prohibition on gay marriage. While many counties have chosen to adhere to the federal ruling, thirteen counties still refuse to issue marriage licenses. This recent supreme court decision highlights the legal complications with same-sex marriages even after it was declared legal by the Supreme Court. While the state was ruled against in this case, there will undoubtedly be many more cases to come regarding this issue. V.L., who will soon be able to see the children again, commented that, “No parent and child should ever be separated because a court refuses to follow the law and recognize adoptions from other states.”