A while back I commented on a Louisiana case in which two adoptive gay parents sought a new birth certificate for their son. I’ll do a brief summary of the case, but I just wanted to note that the case was argued today. (I just updated to add a later version of the story.) I cannot find much detail about the argument, but it does remind me that it is out there. It’s worth paying attention to because it might tell us something about the portability of parenthood or perhaps legal significance of birth certificates.
So here’s the summary: Oren Adar and Mickey Ray Smith both adopted the child, I think in New York, which permits gay couples to jointly adopt. The child was born in Louisiana, which does not permit two unmarried people to adopt. Since the child was born in Louisiana, the child has a Louisiana birth certificate. Adar and Smith sought to have a new birth certificate issues–one that reflected their status as parents.
(I know to many people this may seem remarkable, but in fact, new birth certificates re routinely issued after adoptions, by Louisiana as well as every other state. You might wish to read this discussion of birth certificates or browse other entries under this tag.)
Louisiana, which does generally issue new birth certificates after adoption, refused to do so here, because the state would not have permitted Adar and Smith to adopt in the first place. Adar and Smith brought suit, won in the trial court, and are now defending that victory on appeal to the Fifth Circuit.
The case spurred the Louisiana legislature to enact legislation mandating the state to refuse birth certificates in cases like this. I don’t think that actually adds much to the state’s legal position. It will be interesting to hear what the Fifth Circuit has to say about the significance of a sister-state adoption and the meaning of birth certificates.