FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | August 13, 2003
(San Francisco, CA, August 13, 2003) — Yesterday, the American Bar Association (ABA), the nation's largest legal group, approved a resolution to support laws and court decisions permitting second parent adoptions, a procedure by which both members of a same-sex or other unmarried couple can establish legal parental relationships with their children. The vote took place during the ABA's annual conference, which was held this year in San Francisco.
The resolution was sponsored by the ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities. Mark Agrast, Chair of the Section, stated, "This is a very important step forward for children who deserve legal protection for their familial relationships. We are very gratified the ABA has taken this step to protect children."
Other sponsors included the Section of Family Law, the Steering Committee on the Unmet Legal Needs of Children, and the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association. The resolution passed by a voice vote, with little debate. The resolution builds on prior ABA resolutions regarding same-sex parent families. In 1995, the ABA adopted a policy prohibiting the use of sexual orientation in making child custody and visitation decisions, and in 1999, the ABA adopted a policy that called for laws establishing that sexual orientation should not used to prohibit a person from adopting.
According to Courtney Joslin, co-chair of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committee of the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, "As a result of yesterday's vote, support for second-parent adoptions is now official ABA policy. This will send a powerful message to legislatures and courts that second parent adoptions are sound policy and should be made available to protect children with same-sex parents."
The concept of second-parent adoption was developed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights in the early 1980s. Since then, the procedure has been established throughout California and in many other states. Second-parent adoptions are available by statute or appellate court decision in 10 states, and in specific counties in at least 15 other states. Courts in only four states have disapproved second-parent adoptions: Colorado, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
Last week, the California Supreme Court issued a decision affirming the validity of second-parent adoptions in California. Writing for the majority, Justice Werdegar explained: "second parent adoptions offer the possibility of obtaining the security and advantages of two parents for some of California's neediest children."
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.