The Idaho Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] unanimously Monday that a woman in a same-sex marriage may adopt her partner's birth children. The couple was legally married in California in 2013 and Jane Doe I is the legal mother of two boys, aged 12 and 15. On appeal from a magistrate ruling which denied the adoption, Jane Doe argued that Idaho's adoption statutes unambiguously allow her to adopt, that she meets all of the statutory requirements to adopt, and it is immaterial that she is considered unmarried under state law. Idaho Code § 16-1501 [text] provides that "[a]ny minor child may be adopted by any adult person residing in and having residence in Idaho, in the cases and subject to the rules prescribed in this chapter." Monday's ruling sets the precedent for second-parent adoption in Idaho and is not limited to same-sex couples. Rather, it affirms the law in Idaho that any state resident over 18 may adopt a child if the statutory requirements are met.
The legal debate over same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most active legal issues in the US. In recent months, a number of states have faced challenges against the constitutionality of denying same-sex partners equal spousal rights. On Saturday, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced [JURIST report] the federal government plans to give married same-sex couples the same benefits as heterosexual couples when filing for bankruptcy, testifying in court, or visiting family members in prison. On Monday, four legally married same-sex couples in the state of Ohio filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in federal court, seeking a court order to force the state of Ohio to recognize both spouses' names on birth certificates. The tension between state and federal recognition of same-sex marriage rights is ongoing in the US state of Utah, which sits in the Tenth Circuit. Last week attorneys for the state of Utah filed a brief [JURIST report] in the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit [official website], seeking to overturn a federal court decision that struck down [JURIST report] the ban on same-sex marriage in Utah. In January the American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU) [advocacy website], in conjunction with a private law firm, filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] on behalf of four same-sex couples in Utah. Earlier in January Eric Holder announced [JURIST report] the federal government will recognize the marriages that took place in Utah while same-sex marriage was briefly allowed.