A recent custody battle between a same-sex couple went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The case, titled V.L. v. E.L., involved a same-sex couple from Alabama. Between 2002 and 2004, E.L. gave birth to three children via artificial insemination. In 2007, the couple petitioned a Georgia court to issue an adoption decree recognizing V.L. as a legal parent of the children. The Georgia court issued the decree.
Trouble arose when the couple split up. In 2014, V.L. petitioned an Alabama court for visitation rights, citing in her petition the fact that she legally adopted the children in 2007. Under the Full Faith and Credit clause of the United States Constitution, “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.” Following this constitutional mandate, the Alabama court should have respected the decree of the Georgia court and recognized V.L.’s parental rights.
Instead, the Alabama court ruled that the adoption decree was “incorrectly granted.” The case moved all the way to the Alabama Supreme Court, which held that the Georgia decree was unlawful. Recognizing the error, the United States Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari and heard the case.
The U.S. Supreme Court explained that under the Full Faith and Credit clause, a state may not disregard the ruling of another state simply because it disagrees with the judgment. The Court stated that Alabama must respect the adoption decree issued by the Georgia court.
This decision confirms that states cannot discriminate against same-sex couples in violation of the Full Faith and Credit Clause. When a person is legally recognized as a parent in one state, every other state must respect that parental right. If you have a comment or would like more information about this issue, please contact us.