Lesbian Couple Seeking Adoption Challenge Alabama Marriage Ban

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Jun 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

For same-sex couples, a marriage ban not only impacts the right to marry, but can have other legal consequences. Couples who marry in other states cannot divorce in Alabama. In anotherrecent case that highlights the disparate impact of Alabama marriage laws, a lesbian couple married in Massachusetts is having difficulty seeking an adoption because of the marriage ban. Now they are challenging Alabama's Marriage Protection Act to help other same-sex couples get their marriages and legal interests recognized.

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The Alabama Marriage Protection Act defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Currently, state law does not allow same-sex couples to be issued marriage licenses and the state also refuses to recognize same-sex marriages that were performed legally in other states. Our Birmingham gay marriage attorneys are experienced in helping couples protect their rights when battling Alabama marriage laws. We understand the challenges faced by same sex couples and are abreast of legal developments in Alabama same-sex marriage law.

The lesbian couple is seeking legal support from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in challenging Alabama's same-sex marriage ban. The couple and the organization are hopeful because federal courts are trending towards overturning same-sex marriage bans. On record, there is no challenge to a state same-sex marriage ban that has not been overturned by a federal court. The recent challenge is based on Alabama's refusal to recognize same-sex marriage, which denies them equal legal protection under the law. The plaintiffs argue that denying legal protections and rights are ultimately discriminatory.

One of the direct ways that denial of marriage recognition has impacted the couple is that they have not been able to get legal recognition of their adopted daughter. This is one of the primary issues for the parents of a 7-year-old who was adopted as an infant. Though both have had an equal part in raising the daughter, only one of the women is considered a legal parent in Alabama. The couple was originally from Alabama and has been married for two years since their wedding in Massachusetts. They are both active in their church where they teach Sunday school and say that the congregation recognizes them both as parents of their daughter.

Since June 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, lawsuits in several states have resulted in the overturning of state laws that prevent the recognition of gay marriage. According to representatives from the ACLU, gay marriage bans are likely to be overturned throughout the country. Regardless of personal beliefs about gay marriage, the shift in laws is likely to have a broad impact on couples who have been married outside of Alabama or who want a same-sex marriage license from the state of Alabama.

According to State Rep. Richard Laird, the majority of Alabamians support traditional marriage and voted in favor of the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment in 2006. The lawsuit filed in Alabama only deals with the recognition of marriages performed in other states, but does not deal directly with the right to marry. Currently, 19 states allow for same-sex marriage. The lawsuit names the Governor, Attorney General, and other high ranking officials.

If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

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