Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another thing noted in passing

A bit of good news to lighten the gloom, courtesy of syndicated columnist Deb Price:
Should the legal ties between parents and their adopted child unravel if the family leaves the state where the adoption decree was handed down?

Of course not. The very idea is outrageous.

But that's what Oklahoma lawmakers were striving for in 2004 with their chillingly titled "Adoption Invalidation Law," which targeted adopted children with gay parents.
Oklahoma, apparently thinking of changing its nickname to "The 'I'm OK, You're Not OK' State," declared it would not recognize "an adoption by more than one individual of the same sex from any other state or foreign jurisdiction." So if a same-sex couple moved to Oklahoma, any children they had adopted would no longer be theirs. Even such a family passing through the state would not be recognized as one.

In reading about this I couldn't help but imagine a case where a couple who had adopted a child are driving through the state, there is a minor accident - and the police take the child from them and it becomes a ward of the state because the couple were not its legal parents in the eyes of the police or the state courts. That may seem an extreme case, but still, it illustrates what's so wrong with this: the exercise of arbitrary power to mess with families you happen to dislike.

"Sounds un-American, doesn't it?" Price asks. It does. But here's the good part:
It's also unconstitutional. That's what a federal court of appeals told Oklahoma on Aug. 3 in striking down the law. A panel of three judges - all of them Republican appointees - of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court ruling that Oklahoma's anti-family law violated the U.S. Constitution's Full Faith and Credit Clause, which requires states to honor one another's judicial judgments, including adoptions.

The appeals court also ordered Oklahoma to issue a revised birth certificate for an Oklahoma-born girl so that she is listed as the daughter of the women who legally adopted her in California.

Late last week, the Oklahoma Department of Health decided not to fight the ruling, so families headed by gay couples no longer need to fear traveling through or moving to Oklahoma with their adopted children.
Price says that about 250,000 children are being raised by gay parents in this country. That sort of fact is one good reason why I say full equality will come. It will. Not tomorrow, but it will come. It will come because gay friends, gay marriage, gay parents, it will become normal. Ordinary, everyday, mundane, no longer worth remarking on or even noticing, any more than friends, couples, and parents being straight is today.

I recall the Massachusetts legislator who initially supported an amendment to the state constitution that would overturn the state's Supreme Judicial Court decision allowing for same-sex marriages. A year later, on the second attempt to move the amendment forward, he voted against it, thereby helping block it. He said he had changed his mind because, contrary to his expectations, there had been no social upheaval, no great disturbance, no raging conflicts. Life went on just as it had before. A same-sex couple getting married had become just another ordinary event of day-to-day life, of special note only to those involved. In that case, he decided, how could he be against it?

I firmly believe that there will be more and more of that as time goes on.

This is by no means to say that there are no Westboro Baptist Church types out there, no bloodthirsty bigots who have wet dreams of being another Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson to another Matthew Shepard. It is to say that the time is coming. The time will come. And even now, hate can be sent running.

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