SCOTUS Won’t Hear Gay Dads’ Birth-Certificate Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied an appeal from Mickey Ray Smith and Oren Adar, a gay couple who wanted both of their names to appear on their adopted child’s Louisiana birth certificate.

A Louisiana clerk had originally refused to issue a new certificate listing both men as parents, citing state laws barring unmarried couples from adopting children. She offered instead to list one of them, as single-parent adoption is legal in the state. (Yeah, that makes sense—better one person alone than two people without a piece of paper.)

In an earlier ruling, a federal appeals court said that the unmarried-couple statute, “attempts neither to encourage marriage nor to discourage behavior deemed immoral … but rather to ensure stable environments for adopted children.” It maintained that preventing both men from being listed on the certificate did not deny actual legal recognition of the adoption, which actually took place in New York State.

Sounds like its gonna be a crummy Father’s Day.

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  • Hyhybt

    I still think birth certificates ought never to be altered for any reason at all other than error in preparing the original. It should record facts of BIRTH. That’s why it’s a BIRTH certificate. Come up with some other way of documenting adoptions… ALL adoptions.

    Or leave room to add (not replace) information as things change.

  • Kenny

    @Hyhybt: I’d agree with you except adoption still carries a significant stigma in this country, although less of one than it did 50 years ago. But with the continued stigmatization, I can’t support issuing a birth certificate that in any way differs from one issued to a biological child. Nosy people should not be able to determine if a child is adopted because of the birth certificate format. As long as you find a way to ensure all birth certificates look the same, I’m fine with keeping behind the scenes information.

  • Kenny

    This ruling is cruel to children as it returns us to the days of bastard children & treating them differently under the law. We are punishing the child because of the marital status of his parents & a federal court was fine with that idea. Shall we return to the days in which bastard children were denied inheritance rights simply because their parents were unmarried?

  • the crustybastard


    Bastardy laws have long been de facto for the children of gay parents. They can’t necessarily inherit, or benefit from insurance policies or survivors pensions, etc. — because society disapproves of their parent’s relationship.


    Adoption creates a legal fiction conferring all the same rights and privileges afforded to biological children. In other words, there is no reason to retain biological next-of-kin records when there is no legal next-of-kin relationship. In effect, this is correcting an error in preparing the original birth certificate.

    This is similar to the way marriage creates a legal fiction of next-of-kinship between two unrelated people.

  • GayGOP

    For most of the Justices, this is not passing on the merits of the case. We cannot presume that this was that. To get before the Court, a Petition for Writ of Certiorari requires the agreement of four justices. More importantly, with few exceptions, Justice Brennan being the most prominent name that comes to mind, the issue is not one of what the Justices think, but both the importance and divided-ness of the issue.

    There is a set of guidelines for petitioners who want to bring a case before the Court. To get a case before the Court usually requires a curious question of law, i.e. something new and unusual; also required, usually, is a split in the Circuit Courts of Appeals, such that there is a real unsettling of the law between Circuits. The Court will often hold off on taking issues, even contentious ones, or ones that even four justices think are very important, such as this, until there is some evidence that the law will be unsettled without the action of the Supreme Court. That state of unsettlement appears to not be the case here.

  • Dad's Law

    I agree with Kenny. This is very cruel to children.

Comments are closed.