Advocates Defeat Proposed Louisiana Adoption Ban
April 29, 2010
Yesterday, Louisiana LGBT advocates successfully defeated a bill which would have made adoption more challenging for same-sex couples. In response to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that a legally adopted child’s two fathers must be listed on the birth certificate, Louisiana State Senator B.L. Shaw proposed a bill to attempt to circumvent the decision. The proposed legislation provided that no Louisiana Vital Records registrar could issue a birth certificate showing two parents of the same sex, even if the parents are recognized in another state as the child's legal parents. The records office would have been required to issue a statement to the adoptive parents that read in part:
Louisiana law does not allow our office to issue a new birth certificate to include the names of two individuals who adopt a child where the two are not married or where the two individuals would not qualify to be married in the state of Louisiana pursuant to the Constitution of Louisiana, Article XII, §15 and Children's Code Article 1198 or 1221.
The senator included in the bill a provision allowing the state finalizing the adoption to issue a new birth certificate, but that appears to be a false offer. Birth Certificates must be amended in the state in which they were issued. No state has jurisdiction over another state's vital records. The only exception is for children born in another country, in which case states will issue a certificate of foreign birth. HRC worked with Forum for Equality in Louisiana and several national adoption organizations to enter accurate information into the committee record, explaining that children whose parents couldn’t amend their birth certificates would not have the same documentation as other children. Another state senator used this information to pressure Senator Shaw into pulling his bill. Presently it is unclear whether same-sex couples are permitted to adopt in Louisiana. The Louisiana Children's Code Article 1198 provides for adoption by single people or married couples jointly, leaving unmarried couples in limbo. Currently, two bills are pending in the Louisiana House which would allow unmarried couples to adopt. Florida is the only state that explicitly prohibits people from adopting on the basis of their sexual orientation.
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