Alabama Mother Asks Supreme Court to Review Unprecedented Alabama Refusal to Recognize a Same-Sex Parent Adoption from Another State

Morrison & Foerster represents children’s Guardian Ad Litem

11/20/2015

Litigation and Appellate + Supreme Court

MoFo News Item

On November 16, a lesbian mother in Alabama asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review an Alabama Supreme Court decision refusing to recognize her as an adoptive parent of her three children and holding that Alabama does not have to recognize second-parent adoptions granted by Georgia courts. The mother also asked the Supreme Court for an emergency order permitting her to visit her children while her appeal is pending. As a result of an earlier Alabama order, she has not had visitation with her children—ages 12, 10, and 10—for nearly seven months, even though she has raised them from their birth.

In her request, V.L. the adoptive mother, notes that the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision is unprecedented. Before this ruling, no state supreme court has refused to recognize a same-sex parent’s adoption from another state—or any out-of-state adoption—based on a disagreement with how the court issuing the adoption interpreted its own adoption laws. Under the United States Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause, states are required to respect court judgments, including adoption orders, issued by courts in other states. V.L.’s request says “this Court’s review of the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision is urgently needed” because “the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision flouts a century of precedent on the Full Faith and Credit Clause and will have a devastating impact on Alabama adoptive families.”

The children’s Guardian Ad Litem also filed a motion on November 18 to allow the children to visit V.L. pending the appeal, arguing that the children will be harmed if they are not allowed to have visitation with V.L.

Justice Thomas has called for E. L., the biological mother, to respond to the stay applications by November 30.

Morrison & Foerster partner Marc Hearron represents the children’s Guardian Ad Litem, Tobie J. Smith of the Legal Aid Society of Birmingham.

V.L is represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Adam Unikowsky and Paul Smith of Jenner & Block, and Alabama attorneys Heather Fann of Boyd, Fernambucq, Dunn & Fann, P.C., and Traci Vella of Vella & King, Attorneys at Law.

For more information, see NCLR’s full press release.

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