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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Ind. Decisions - More on: AG asks Supreme Court to hear same-sex adoption question

"High court ruling sought on adoption" is the headline to a story by Dan McFeely today in the Indianapolis Star. (For background, see this ILB entry from yesterday, including links to earlier entries and the Court of Appeals decision.) Some quotes from today's story:

On Monday, Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter asked the state's Supreme Court to decide whether two people who are not married can jointly petition for an adoption. Two trial judges have disagreed on the matter, and the Indiana Court of Appeals split 2-1 in a ruling last month.

Given the various legal opinions, Carter said it is proper for the Supreme Court to get involved.

His decision was welcomed by conservatives such as state Sen. Jeff Drozda, R-Westfield. But for legislators, it does not mean the matter will be placed on hold while the court decides whether to take the case. Drozda said he will move forward with plans to introduce a bill next year to prohibit same-sex couples from adopting.

"Regardless of the final outcome (of the legal battle), it's more important to have public policy set by members of the General Assembly rather than judges," said Drozda. * * *

The April [Court of Appeals] decision involved a Morgan County case in which a judge attempted to overturn the joint adoption of the child in Marion County by Brennan and Hamilton. The women were originally foster parents to the girl.

The judge argued he should have maintained jurisdiction because the child was the subject of a welfare case in his court at the time of the adoption petition. Though the couple also lived in Morgan County, state law allows adoptions to be filed in any county.

Appellate Judges Nancy H. Vaidik and John G. Baker ruled the Marion County court had jurisdiction and properly granted the joint petition for adoption. Judge Edward W. Najam Jr. dissented.

There is nothing in Indiana code that limits the couple's right to adopt, Baker wrote in the majority ruling. But that would change under Drozda's proposed bill.

Drozda will model his new proposal that bans gays from adopting on a Florida law enacted in 1977. That law was upheld in 2004 by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

Two other Court of Appeals rulings have established precedent in Indiana for co-adoptions by unmarried and gay couples. Those cases involved couples in which a child initially was adopted by one partner, rather than through a joint petition.

Outside Indiana, same-sex couples can jointly adopt in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and the District of Columbia, according to Human Rights Watch, a national gay rights group.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 16, 2006 06:14 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions