Adar v. Smith
Case representing gay fathers who were refused a birth certificate for their newly adopted son by the office of the Louisiana State Registrar.
After legally adopting their Louisiana-born child in the state of New York, Oren Adar and his partner Mickey Smith were told by the Louisiana state registrar that she would not issue a new birth certificate for their child, because Louisiana does not recognize adoption by unmarried parents. Lambda Legal filed suit on behalf of Adar and Smith in October 2007, saying that the registrar violated the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution by refusing to recognize the New York adoption decree, and that denying a birth certificate only to children of unmarried parents violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The Louisiana attorney general had earlier advised the registrar that she did not have to honor an adoption from another state that Louisiana would not have granted under Louisiana law if the couple had lived and adopted there. In December 2008, a U.S. district judge ruled against the registrar, finding that the attorney general was wrong and that the registrar’s conduct did not comply with her full faith and credit obligation. The court ordered her to issue a new birth certificate identifying both Oren Adar and Mickey Smith as the child’s parents.
- October 2007 Case is filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
- December 2008 Judgment is granted in favor of plaintiffs.
- January 2009 Defendant files notice of appeal.
- October 2009 Lambda Legal argues the case before a three-member panel of federal judges in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
- February 2010 Victory! A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirms the district court’s judgment, holding that the Louisiana Registrar of Vital Statistics must respect Oren Adar and Mickey Smith’s New York State adoption of their son and issues a new birth certificate listing them both as their son’s parents.
- March 2010 Attorney General Buddy Caldwell files a petition asking for rehearing by the full Fifth Circuit Court.
- April 2011 A sharply divided Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reverses the two prior court rulings and denies Adar and Smith’s son an accurate birth certificate.
- July 2011 Lambda Legal asks the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.
- October 2011 U.S. Supreme Court denies Lambda Legal appeal.