The U.S. Supreme Court overturned an Alabama court order that had prohibited a lesbian from having contact with the three children she adopted and helped raise in neighboring Georgia while in a long-term relationship with their biological mother.
The ruling, without published dissent, reinforces gay rights less than a year after the court legalized same-sex marriage across the country. The justices didn’t hear arguments in the case, instead summarily reversing the Alabama Supreme Court.
The woman, identified only as V.L., has been battling the children’s biological mother, known as E.L. in court papers. The two women lived as a couple for 17 years in Alabama before gay marriage was legal in the state. V.L. adopted the children in 2007 after the pair set up a second residence in Georgia. The children were conceived by insemination from an anonymous donor.
The couple split up in 2011, and V.L. later sued in Alabama state court, accusing E.L. of denying her access to the children, one now 13 and 11-year-old twins. The case made its way to the Alabama Supreme Court, which refused to recognize the Georgia adoption decree.
V.L. said the Alabama Supreme Court violated the Constitution’s full-faith-and-credit clause, which requires recognition of court judgments made in another state. She was backed by a court-appointed guardian who is representing the children’s interests.
The Alabama court said the constitutional provision doesn’t apply because a Georgia court had misapplied that state’s adoption laws.
In an unsigned opinion, the Supreme Court said the Georgia ruling "appears on its face to have been issued by a court with jurisdiction, and there is no established Georgia law to the contrary."
The Supreme Court in December blocked the Alabama court order from taking effect while the justices considered whether to take up the dispute.
The case is V.L. v. E.L., 15-648.