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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 23 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 21
Utah Supreme Court halts same-sex adoptions
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Utah Supreme Court halts same-sex adoptions

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Utah Supreme Court put a stop to adoptions by same-sex couples in an order issued May 16.

The case is a spinoff of a federal challenge to Utah's ban on same-sex marriages, involving a Lesbian couple married after U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby struck down the ban on December 20, and before the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the judge's ruling on January 6.

The couple subsequently obtained a court order allowing them to adopt a child. Neither the women nor the child are identified in court documents.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the federal government would recognize the 1,300 same-sex marriages performed during the December 20-January 6 window of opportunity, but Utah state officials said they would not.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes filed suit to prevent the state's Department of Health from issuing adoption certificates to same-sex couples on the grounds that same-sex marriages are not recognized under state law.

'The stay prevents further confusion as the district court order required the [health] department to list same-sex parents as the legal parents of an adoptive child,' the Reyes's office said in a statement. 'The department sought clarification because the court orders appear to conflict with Utah law currently in effect, which prohibits the state and any state entities from recognizing same-sex marriages.

'The attorney general's office is encouraged that it will be able to present the department's full arguments to the court so that these issues may be resolved to give people who seek adoption and the department clarity on the issues.'

The couple's attorney, Shane Marx, has filed a petition at a Salt Lake City court asking state officials to 'show cause why they should not be held in contempt for their willful disregard and refusal to obey' the original adoption order. Reyes, Department of Health Director Dr. David Patton, and State Registrar Janice Houston were named in the petition.

'The parents are the parents under Utah law,' said Clifford Rosky, Chair of Equality Utah and spokesperson for Marx. 'They have an adoption, they have a court order that says they shall be named on the birth certificate, and the state of Utah is simply defying that court order.'

The Utah Supreme Court's action is temporary, and would be reversed if the Tenth Circuit Court issues a ruling upholding Shelby's decision. The Tenth Circuit heard oral arguments on the case on April 20, but has not yet indicated when it will rule on the appeal.

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