The American Civil Liberties Union is taking a legal strike at the controversial North Carolina law that prohibits same-sex couples from adopting children. According to family law professionals, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of six same-sex couples who reside throughout the state of North Carolina. Each couple has at least one child.
The suit claims that the law violates the fundamental rights of children and parents.
Advocates with the ACLU say same-sex couples deserve the same parental rights as heterosexual pairs. Furthermore, the children need the protection that comes along with having two parents, especially if they are legally recognized.
North Carolina is a state that has unilaterally rejected bids by gay and lesbian advocates to enact same-sex marriage. In fact, the ban on same-sex marriage was made into a state constitutional amendment due to a vote held in May. The state law also bars same-sex couples from adopting children.
Instead, same-sex couples may only gain parental rights if they petition the court for the legal parent to surrender all rights to the child. That step is not required for heterosexual step-parents, according to gay and lesbian activists. Furthermore, single people are permitted to adopt regardless of their sexual orientation.
The lawsuit says that children could lose important social and financial protections by not being adopted by their same-sex parent. For example, health insurance benefits, disability payments, veterans' benefits and other government-sponsored payouts are not available to children of same-sex parents in North Carolina. Additionally, the future becomes uncertain for the child whose biological parent dies. If that child has not been adopted by the same-sex spouse, foster homes and state custody may await.
Plaintiffs in the case say they look forward to seeing the day that all North Carolina residents are treated equally under the law. Most of the plaintiffs have undertaken this cause on behalf of the other same-sex couples in the state who may be afraid to speak out.
Family law can span a wide gamut of issues, from divorce to child custody. When children are involved, a lot of the issues, including child support and property division, are affected by the needs of the children. No matter the circumstance of the family, it is the court's duty to make the child's best interests a priority when making final decisions.
Source: News Observer, "ACLU lawsuit challenges NC ban on adoption by same-sex couples," Craig Jarvis, June 14, 2012