« Ind. Decisions - Transfer list for week ending August 4, 2006 | Main | Not Law - Inefficiency exists outside government also »

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Ind. Decisions - More on: Supreme Court denies transfer in the Morgan County same-sex adoption case

Cordell Eddings of the Indianapolis Star has a story today headlined: "Challenge fails: Adoption by gay couples stands State supreme court declines to hear case." Some quotes:

Same-sex couples in Indiana will be allowed to adopt children after the Indiana Supreme Court let a lower court ruling stand.

In a 4-1 decision Friday, the state's highest court declined to hear arguments against unmarried couples adopting, effectively upholding a lower-court ruling that allowed adoption by joint petition -- a procedure that gives both partners equal custody.

"This is a very important victory for children and the lesbian and gay community," said Patricia Logue, who represented Kim Brennan and Becky Hamilton.

In 2004, the Morgan County couple's adoption of a baby girl was approved by a judge in Marion County but denied by a judge in Morgan County.

Brennan and Hamilton, who could not be reached for comment, have foster and child-care experience and have lived together for more than 10 years.

Logue said the decision would mean more homes for children who wouldn't have one otherwise. She said it's also a victory over the bias against gays and lesbians.

"The facts speak for themselves," said Logue. "Two people can create a caring, stable, loving home for children without being married."

But Justice Brent Dickson wrote a three-page dissent suggesting the Supreme Court should have heard the case in order to clarify issues regarding same-sex adoption.

"The court is missing a valuable opportunity to address and resolve important questions left undecided," Dickson said. "By denying this case, we are missing a valuable and important opportunity to minimize uncertainty and confusion."

The decision also disappointed state Sen. Jeff Drozda, R-Westfield, who is opposed to same-sex adoptions. He said the courts were not representing the views of Hoosiers. He said he will introduce legislation in 2007 to bar same-sex couples from adopting. * * *

Attorney General Steve Carter, who could not be reached for comment, sought the Supreme Court review after the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned a ruling by Morgan Circuit Judge Matthew Hanson.

Hanson opposed the joint petition of Hamilton and Brennan because, he said, Indiana law limits adoption to married couples and individuals. State law prohibits same-sex marriages.

The appeals court ruled that adoptions by unmarried couples were legal and there was nothing in Indiana code that limits a lesbian couple's right to adopt.

Previously, adoptions by unmarried couples were granted only if the child was either the offspring of one partner or already had been adopted by one of the partners, rights that have been granted by other recent appellate decisions.

The appeals court ruling placed Indiana among about 25 states that allow joint adoptions by unmarried couples, Logue said.

Ashley Herer of the AP wrote this report, first posted Friday by the Chicago Tribune online, as in today's paper. Some quotes:
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana's Supreme Court let stand a ruling that allowed unmarried couples, including those of the same sex, to adopt children through a joint petition that gives both partners equal custody.

In a 4-1 decision posted Friday, the high court refused to hear arguments in the case that the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled on in April.

"The court acknowledged that two people can create a caring, stable, loving home for children without being married," said Patricia Logue, senior counsel for Lambda Legal's Midwest office in Chicago. "Not only is this a decision that will keep our clients' family intact, but this is a victory for the thousands of children in Indiana desperately in need of a caring home."

Logue represented a lesbian couple from Morgan County whose 2004 attempt to adopt a baby girl was approved by a judge in one county but denied by a judge in another. * * *

The earlier Appeals Court decision overturned a ruling by Morgan Circuit Court Judge Matthew Hanson, who opposed the joint petition of Becki Hamilton and Kim Brennan because he said Indiana law limits adoption to married couples and individuals. State law prohibits same-sex marriages.

The appeals court said state law requires married persons seeking adoption to petition jointly.

Justice Brent Dickson, in a three-page dissent, said the Supreme Court should have heard the case.

"This court is missing a valuable opportunity to address and resolve important questions," Dickson wrote. * * *

Hanson was conducting hearings to terminate the parental rights of the girl's birth mother when he learned that Hamilton and Brennan were living together and not married. He ordered the Office of Family of Children to look for a married couple to adopt the baby instead.

The couple turned to adjacent Marion County in their bid to keep the girl, and a probate court judge granted the adoption, saying it was in the child's best interest to be with the couple.

Hamilton and Brennan have retained custody of the child during their appeal.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 5, 2006 09:03 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions