The case concerns a former same-sex couple, identified in court documents as "V.L. and E.L," who were raising three children together in Alabama after using donor insemination. "V.L.", the non biological mother, adopted the couples' children in Georgia in 2007 with E.L's consent. When the couple broke, up E.L. stopped V.L from visiting the children and argued that the Georgia adoption was invalid. The Alabama Supreme Court voided the adoption, saying it should not have been granted. V.L sued, arguing that under the Constitution's full faith and credit clause states are required to respect court judgments issued in other states.
The Supreme Court agreed with the non biological mother and reversed the Alabama Supreme Court decision that had invalidated the Georgia adoption decree of her children.
Lawyers for V.L praised the Supreme Court's decision. Had the Court gone the other way they feared it could call into question the parental rights of other adoptive parents who traveled or moved to Alabama.
"The Supreme Court's reversal of Alabama's unprecedented decision to void an adoption from another state is a victory not only for our client but for thousands of adopted families," said National Center for Lesbian Rights Family Law Director Cathy Sakimura, who is representing V.L. "No adoptive parent or child should have to face the uncertainty and loss of being separated years after their adoption just because another state's court disagrees with the law that was applied in their adoption."
V.L released her own statement saying she was "overjoyed" with the decision.
"I have been my children's mother in every way for their whole lives," she said. "I thought that adopting them meant that we would be able to be together always. When the Alabama court said my adoption was invalid and I wasn't their mother, I didn't think I could go on. The Supreme Court has done what's right for my family."
In the unanimous, unsigned opinion, the court said, "The Constitution provides that the 'Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records and judicial Proceedings of every other state.' That Clause requires each State to recognize and give effect to valid judgments rendered by the courts of its sister States."
The Court said that the Georgia courts made V.L. the legal adoptive parent of the children.
"Whatever the merits of that judgment, it was within [their power] over 'all matters of adoption.' The Georgia court thus had the [authority] required to entitle its judgment to full faith and credit."