Same-sex couples around the United States have a new reason to brush up on the Full Faith and Credit Clause. On Tuesday, Lambda Legal filed a writ of certiorari in Adar v. Smith, the same-sex adoption case in which the Fifth Circuit ruled that the Full Faith and Credit Clause applies only to state courts, not state government officials.
The case involves same-sex parents Oren Adar and Mickey Smith, who sought an updated birth certificate for their Louisiana-born son after adopting him in New York, in 2006. Despite a Louisiana law that requires a state official to make a new record reflecting adoptive parents’ names upon receipt of a certified adoption decree, Louisiana State Registrar Darlene Smith refused the request because Louisiana does not permit unmarried couples to adopt jointly.
Lambda Legal, representing Adar and Mickey Smith, argues that the Full Faith and Credit clause requires Louisiana officials to recognize the New York adoption decree in this case,and claims that denying a birth certificate only to children of unmarried parents violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Lambda Legal Attorney Kenneth D. Upton, Jr. said, "We have long since abandoned the notion that the government can punish children to express disapproval of their parents or their families. The state of Louisiana cannot withhold a birth certificate for this child simply because it doesn't like who his parents are."
Adar v. Smith could shape national policy regarding one of the most contentious civil rights issues of our time. Should the Supreme Court decide that state officials must afford full faith and credit to the another state's legal documents, the decision could then extend to a state's obligation to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Louisiana officials have not filed a response to the petition.
- Adar v. Smith Petition for Writ of Certiorari (Lambda Legal)
- Gay adoption case reaches Court; (SCOTUSblog)
- When Same-Sex Couples Adopt: Problems of Interstate Recognition (FindLaw's Writ)
- Full Faith and Credit Clause (FindLaw's LawBrain)