The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday blocked an Alabama judicial ruling that refused to recognize a gay woman’s parental rights over three children she adopted with her lesbian partner and raised from birth.
In an unsigned order, the court said the case would be put on hold while the woman, named in court papers as V.L., files a formal appeal of the September ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court.
Lawyers for the woman say the Alabama ruling “effectively stripped V.L. of parental rights over the children she had raised since they were born.”
The National Center for Lesbian Rights, which represents V.L., said she will now have visitation rights, having not seen the children since April.
“I’m overjoyed that my children and I will be able to be together again,” V.L. said in a statement provided by the group.
“I adopted my children more than eight years ago to be sure that I could always be there to protect them. This terrible Alabama decision has hurt my family and will hurt so many other families if it is not corrected,” V.L. added.
V.L. was formerly in a relationship with a woman identified as E.L., who is the birth mother of the three children, a 13-year-old and 11-year-old twins.
In 2007, a court in Georgia granted V.L.’s petition to adopt the children in a move that E.L. agreed to at the time. The couple split in 2011 and disagreed over custody arrangements.
V.L. filed papers in Alabama seeking joint custody. Lower courts ruled in her favor before the state’s high court ruled in favor of her former partner.
The state appeals court said it did not have to endorse the Georgia court’s adoption order. Under the U.S. Constitution, state courts are required to recognize judgments issued by courts in other states.
But the Alabama Supreme Court said that the Georgia court did not have jurisdiction to issue the adoption order. The Alabama Supreme Court ruling will now remain on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court justices decide whether to hear V.L.’s case in full.
The two women were not married. A Supreme Court ruling in June legalized gay marriage nationwide.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)