Court Says No to Two Dads on Louisiana Birth Certificate

A federal court ruled this week against forcing Louisiana to recognize a gay couple on the birth certificate of their adoptive son.

The majority of the full 16 judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the state of Louisiana, which does not allow gay marriage or gay adoption, is not required to put two men’s names on the birth certificate of a Louisiana-born child adopted in New York.

A key issue in the case is whether or not including only one parent’s name on the birth certificate violates the U.S. Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause, which says states must respect the “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings” of other states.

“The Court has affirmed that the U.S. Constitution does not force states where the law recognizes traditional families to issue official documents, such as birth certificates, to legitimize homosexual relationships,” said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council and former Louisiana state congressman, on Wednesday.

Nine of the 16 judges agreed with the opinion written by Chief Judge Edith Jones that rejected the argument of unmarried same-sex couple Oren Adar and Mickey Smith, represented by Lambda Legal, that Louisiana’s treatment of unmarried parents compared to married couples regarding adoption is illegal. Lambda Legal also argued that not recognizing both parents violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution because it might be a disadvantage to the child treating married and unmarried parents differently.

Louisiana also does not allow adoptions by unmarried couples, even if they are heterosexual.

“This theory is unavailing in the face of the state’s rational preference for stable adoptive families, and the state’s decision to have its birth certificate requirements flow from its domestic adoption law,” Jones wrote, according to The Associated Press.

Regarding the Full Faith and Credit Clause, Jones wrote that the law does not mean Louisiana must “confer particular benefits on unmarried adoptive parents contrary to its laws.”

In addition to the nine judges, another two judges partially agreed with Jones’ opinion. Five judges disagreed, arguing that because New York recognizes the gay couple as parents, then Louisiana must also do the same.

“I have searched the Constitution in vain for a ‘Half Faith and Credit Clause,’” wrote Judge Jacques L. Wiener, Jr., in the dissent.

Adoptive parents Adar and Smith, who now live in Orlando, Fla., won the first round of the lawsuit when a federal district court judge ruled in their favor in 2008. They also won last year when a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court ruled that both men’s names should be included on the birth certificate. But the gay couple lost Tuesday when the case went to the full court with 16 judges.

Liberty Counsel said in a statement Wednesday that the ruling is important because it affirms the distinction between “recognizing” an out-of-state law versus “enforcing” the out-of-state order that conflicts with the state’s law. So a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage and adoption cannot be forced to enforce an out-of-state rule that goes against its own law.

“This decision is an incredible victory against the relentless efforts of activists to export their same-sex relationships to states that affirm the mother-father paradigm for family,” said Mathew Staver, founding chairman of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law. “The Full Faith and Credit Clause can no longer be used as a club to beat states into submission to the activist homosexual agenda.”

Gay activist group Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit on behalf of gay couple Adar and Smith in October 2007. Attorney Ken Upton said the group needed to analyze the complicated 72-page decision before deciding its next move, according to AP.

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