New York Governor David Paterson (D) [official website] signed a bill on Sunday allowing unmarried partners, including gay couples, to jointly adopt a child. The law [A 05652 materials] amends the language of Section 110 [text] of New York's domestic relations law to allow two unmarried adult intimate partners to adopt a child. The New York Assembly [official website] passed the bill in July, after finding that the amended language keeps with the state's policy to ensure the best interests of the child. The new law also removes the phrase "husband and wife" and replaces it with "married couple." This is because, while same-sex marriage is illegal in the state, New York recognizes [NY1 News> report] same-sex marriages from other states. The amended language is as follows:
An adult unmarried person, an adult married couple together, or any two unmarried adult intimate partners together may adopt another person...An adult or minor married couple together may adopt a child of either of them born in or out of wedlock and an adult or minor spouse may adopt such a child of the other spouse.The Assembly found there to be confusion about whether unmarried couples can adopt a child, especially in cases where one parent adopts the child overseas and the other seeks to in New York State. The law will ensure the joint adoption rights of unmarried couples, and will also provide the child with full benefits under both partners.
The issue of same-sex adoption [JURIST news archive] is becoming an increasingly important topic in the US and abroad. Last month, the UK Charity Commission [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that an adoption agency may not restrict its adoption services to married heterosexual couples. Also in August, the Mexican Supreme Court upheld a Mexico City law [JURIST report] allowing adoptions by same-sex couples. In April, an Arkansas judge ruled that a state law prohibiting all unmarried couples from adopting violated the state constitution [JURIST report] because it effectively prevented same-sex couples from adopting or fostering children. In February, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ordered [JURIST report] the state of Louisiana to place the names of two fathers on the birth certificate of a boy born in that state but adopted by a same-sex couple in New York. Last November, a French court ruled that a law prohibiting same-sex couples from adopting children in France is discriminatory [JURIST report] and ordered that a single woman be allowed to adopt. In November 2008, a Florida judge ruled that state's ban on same-sex adoption was unconstitutional [JURIST report].