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Understanding same sex adoption laws

Adoption among gay or lesbian couples has been going on for decades, although until relatively recently, most gay or lesbian couples had to keep their sexual orientation in the closet. Researchers estimate that there were between 300,000 to 500,000 lesbian or gay biological parents in 1976. By 1990, this number had reached between 6 and 14 million, with 8 to 14 million children living in gay or lesbian households.

However, until recently the laws regarding parenting by same-sex couples were confusing and inconsistent. In many states, only the biological parent of a child could be legally recognized as that child's parent, and that parent's same-sex partner would have no legal parenting rights and no way to become a stepparent through adoption. In some states, same-sex couples were prohibiting from adopting a child together.

This past summer, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. Included in a legally binding marriage is the right to adoption. This has led to confusion in much of the country as states that formerly prohibited same-sex marriage integrate these new policies into law. In California, however, these rights have existed for more than a decade. California has prohibited discrimination against gay and lesbian parents in adoptions since a court ruling in 2003.

Laws are in place to protect the rights of legal parents, regardless of their sexual orientation. This is true during marriage, as well as divorce, and in the case of family law, issues such as child custody or child support that may come into play during a divorce. It is important to understand your parental rights when dealing with all aspects of family law, including your adoption rights, which have been on the books in the state of California since 2003 and remain unchanged.

Source: By Lambda Legal, "Lambda Legal/California," Accessed Dec. 1, 2015

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