Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Victory for Gay Families in NC on Second-Parent Adoption!

The NC Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that a second-parent adoption by the state’s only openly gay legislator, Sen. Julia Boseman (D-New Hanover) of her former partner's six-year-old child, Melissa Jarrell, is valid. Jarrell had sought to void Boseman’s parental rights.

(Julia Boseman, pictured, was a champion in ENC's recent successful battles for the School Violence Prevention Act and the Healthy Youth Act.)

This is a huge and wonderful victory for gay families in the state. Up until now, second-parent adoptions by gay folks in the state have been in a kind of legal limbo, neither valid nor invalid. Now, they've been validated.

A three-judge panel of the court unanimously agreed that Boseman's adoption of Melissa Jarrell's child cannot be undone. State law creates a huge hurdle for reversing adoptions, and Jarrell had challenged whether state law even allowed gay parents to adopt.

And the state - thank goodness! - basically said it does. (Actually, they apophased it, saying they weren't saying gay adoption was valid but not countering the idea either.)

Judge Wanda Bryant wrote in the opinion that while state law "does not specifically address same-sex adoptions, these statutes do make clear that a wide range of adoptions are contemplated and permitted, so long as they protect the minor’s 'needs, interests, and rights,'"

Bryant wrote that the court would have reached the same conclusion if the couple in question were heterosexual.

So far second-parent adoptions in the state have only been occurring in Orange and Durham Counties, but hopefully this ruling will clear the way for more.

It's all about the children. This ruling, and the ability of both gay parents to adopt their children, protects the kids and ensures that the children wil have the protection of two parents.

Strengthening families - especially our families - helps all of us.

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