Gay parents in Louisiana denied birth certificate listing two men as parents

NOLA.com reports that Louisiana’s Department of Vital Statistics can’t be forced to provide a birth certificate listing two men as the parents of a Louisiana-born boy adopted by a gay couple in New York, a lawyer from the state attorney general’s office said Wednesday before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Kyle Duncan, head of the attorney general’s appellate division, argued before a three-judge panel that since Louisiana law does not allow an unmarried couple to adopt a child together, the state registrar cannot be forced to recognize an out-of-state adoption of that sort in a new birth certificate.

At the end of last year, U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey ruled that the state’s position violates the constitutional rights of the adoptive parents and the child, who was born in Shreveport in 2005 and adopted in April 2006. Because Louisiana provides new birth certificates for Louisiana-born children adopted outside the state – listing the names of the adoptive parents – Zainey concluded that it must provide the same document for this family as well.

In arguments for the adoptive parents, Oren Adar and Mickey Smith, an attorney for Lambda Legal, a national gay rights organization, argued that under the “full faith and credit” provision of the U.S. Constitution, Louisiana State Registrar Darlene Smith can’t pick which out-of-state adoptions she will sanction with a new birth certificate.

While Duncan noted that the New York adoption of the child was valid, he said there was no obligation by Louisiana to issue a public record that violates the state’s own adoption laws. He echoed Jolly’s skepticism about whether depriving the family of a new birth certificate caused harm, saying the document would be more for “understandable symbolic purposes.”

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