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Topics In the News
Gratuitous Cruelty in Utah
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 04/14/14
Last updated on: 04/14/14
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Kimberly and Amber Leary are among the parents whose families are affected.

The attempt by the Attorney General of Utah to block the adoptions of children by married same-sex couples is gratuitous cruelty and gives the lie to his claim in arguments before the Tenth Circuit that Utah's ban on the recognition of same-sex marriage has nothing to do with animus.

On April 7 and 8, 2014, Utah's Attorney General petitioned the Utah Supreme Court for "Emergency Extraordinary Relief." He asked the court to overrule orders from judges who have already approved adoptions to same-sex couples, many of which were filed after Utah's ban on marriage equality was briefly overturned in December 2013. More than 1,300 same-sex couples married in the 17 days before the U.S. Supreme Court placed a stay on the ruling.

The Attorney General claims that the decisions by at least two judges abuse their discretion and force the Department of Health, which issues birth certificates, to "violate the plain text of the Utah Constitution and Utah law prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriage."

One of the couples affected, Kimberly and Amber Leary, were refused a birth certificate that listed both women as parents to their 15-month-old daughter.

Attorney Laura Gray, who represents another same-sex couple whose adoption has been blocked, referred to the recent arguments presented to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals defending Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, when she said, "[The Attorney General and his staff] claim that they want to protect Utah's children, but they are intentionally harming these children by injecting themselves into these cases. We don't understand why the attorney general has to take this extraordinary step of now trying to undo completed adoptions."

In an editorial published on April 11, 2014, the Salt Lake Tribune described the state's attempt to block the adoptions as "a rear-guard action against families it does not like."

"The arguments put forth Thursday by Utah's hired legal eagles in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals will soon be brushed aside, if not by that tribunal, then by the U.S. Supreme Court, and by the march of human progress," the editorial began, and continued as follows.

"The fact that the state is going out of its way to stop the legal formation of two--or more--secure, intact and loving families clearly puts the lie to the argument that the official defense of Amendment 3 is not, in lawyer-speak, "animus" against same-sex couples and their households, but a reasonable state effort to encourage the legal formation of, well, secure, intact and loving families.

"The two adoptions that were approved through the normal process by two different judges came to a cruel halt when the Utah Department of Health refused to issue new birth certificates for the adopted children, documents listing both of the parents the children are really being raised by as their legal parents. The department then petitioned the Utah Supreme Court to support that refusal.

"The argument that those adoptions aren't legal because the marriages weren't legal stands on shaky ground. It also amounts to a totally uncalled-for slap at both the parents and the innocent children involved.

"The core of the many district court rulings allowing same-sex marriage is Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion holding, in the case that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage act, that DOMA was an impermissible denigration of the many children who live in such households.

"Utah's state attempt to block these adoptions is exactly the kind of cruelty that Kennedy was talking about. And, if there is any justice, it will be another example the backers of same-sex marriage will use to prove that Utah isn't out to protect families, but to harm them."

The video below reports on the Attorney General's move to stop adoptions by same-sex couples and on the plight of Kimberly and Amber Leary.

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