In a decision that could impact families of all stripes, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that the state’s laws allow not only for same-sex couples to jointly adopt children, but for any adult to potentially adopt any child regardless of marital status. The case was brought by a lesbian couple (Jane Doe and Jane Doe I) who have been raising two children together since the children were born, seeking second-parent adoption for Jane Doe.
According to the Court, nothing in Idaho law requires marital status to be considered as a factor for a second-parent adoption. This ruling guarantees that all same-sex couples in the state will be eligible for a second-parent adoption:
It bears mentioning that this is not a case dealing with same-sex marriage. Rather, it is strictly a case dealing with Idaho’s adoption laws. Those laws, including the issue of who may adopt, are set by the Idaho Legislature. The Legislature has imposed no restrictions that would disqualify Jane Doe from seeking to adopt Jane Doe I’s children, and the Court will not imply any such restrictions based upon Idaho’s marital statutes. We emphasize that Jane Doe’s sexual orientation was wholly irrelevant to our analysis. Likewise, it is immaterial in determining whether Jane Doe satisfies the statutory requirements for adoption outlined in chapter 15, a question which must be decided on remand.
The case is not entirely over, as the adoption proceeding still must be considered, but nothing about Jane Doe’s gender should impede her from adopting the children she’s already raising.
As “Mombian” blogger Dana Rudolph points out, this decision is an important rebuke against conservatives who try to conflate the issues of same-sex couples marrying and same-sex couples parenting:
Just as an unmarried different-sex couple may still be legal parents to their child, so should a same-sex couple. Additionally, the court is affirming that the tie between marriage and childrearing, so long used as an argument against marriage equality by the far-right, isn’t really as exclusive or necessary a link as some might think. Once marriage is ruled unnecessary for parentage, then the argument against marriage equality (that marriage is necessary for raising kids) falls by the wayside — so there’s really no more reason not to let us marry, should we wish to do so.
Indeed, same-sex couples are raising children in every state of this country. Allowing them to marry only adds to the legal and financial security they can provide their children.