Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell on March 4 asked the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to review the February 20 decision by one of the Court’s three-judge panels that the Louisiana Registrar of Vital Statistics must respect a New York adoption of a Louisiana-born boy by a same-sex couple, Lambda Legal clients Oren Adar and Mickey Smith, and issue a birth certificate indicating Adar and Smith as his parents.
Adar and Smith’s son, adopted and initially denied an updated birth certificate while he was an infant, is now attempting to enroll in school without this document. When the couple first attempted to get a new birth certificate, in part so Smith could add his son to his health insurance, the registrar’s office told him that Louisiana does not recognize adoption by unmarried parents and could not issue it. Lambda Legal filed suit on behalf of Adar and Smith in October 2007, saying that the registrar was violating the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution by refusing to recognize the New York adoption. The Constitution requires that judgments and orders issued by a court in one state be legally binding in other states as well.
The Louisiana attorney general disagreed, and advised the registrar that she did not have to honor an adoption from another state that would not have been granted under Louisiana law had the couple lived and adopted there. In December 2009, U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey ruled against the registrar and issued a summary judgment ordering her to issue a new birth certificate identifying both Adar and Smith as the boy’s parents, saying her continued failure to do so violated the U.S. Constitution. The attorney general appealed the case, unsuccessfully.
“Clearly, it seems Mr. Caldwell is consumed with his bias against gay parents to the point of being blinded to the harm he is causing children,” said Ken Upton, supervising senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal, who represents Adar and Smith. “He’s certainly showing a lack of concern for this child, who is in the process of attempting to enroll in school – without a birth certificate. The Attorney General’s single-minded persecution of a child just because he doesn’t approve of the boy’s parents not only is legally wrong but also is morally reprehensible. The courts have rejected every attempt he’s made not to issue a birth certificate for a very good reason – the Constitution requires states to respect the judgments issued in each other’s courts.”
The case is Adar v. Smith.