Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Case Law Development: Federal Judge Rules Oklahoma Gay Adoption Law Unconstitutional

On Friday, a federal judge sitting in Oklahoma struck down a two-year-old amendment to Oklahoma law that prohibited state officials from recognizing same sex adoptions from other states or countries. The judge found that the amendment violated the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution, the Equal Protection Clause and parties substantive due process rights. He observed that the Amendment to the Oklahoma statute was passed to allegedly “halt the erosion of the mainstream definition of the family unit and to protect Oklahoma children from being targeted for adoption by gay couples across the nation and to ensure that children are raised in traditional family environments.”

The judge wrote that “the Amendment targets an unpopular group and singles them out for disparate treatment. . . . Thus, to the extent the Amendment has a disparate impact on homosexual individuals seeking recognition of out-of-state adoptions, it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and must be set aside.”

The judge also ruled that because the effect of the Amendment is to interfere with the parent Plaintiffs’ rights to make decisions related to the care, custody, and control of their children, Plaintiffs have established the Amendment infringes on a fundamental right.  Furthermore, the defendants failed to produce evidence showing a compelling state interest to be served that justifies the infringement by the state on the fundamental right. A copy of the Federal District Court opinion may be ownloaded here.pdf

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