A child may be adopted by a parent's legal partner in cases where the partners are the same sex, the Pennsylvania supreme court ruled Tuesday. The court, in a 6-0 decision with one justice abstaining, found that one partner in a gay or lesbian relationship can adopt a child without forcing the other partner to give up parental rights. Previously the parent would have had to give up rights to the child in order for the adoption to proceed. The decision means children in gay and lesbian families can now qualify for health insurance, inheritance rights, and other benefits they did not get before.
"There is no language in the Adoption Act precluding two unmarried same-sex partners or unmarried heterosexual partners from adopting a child who had no legal parents," Chief Justice Stephen Zappala wrote in the ruling. "It is therefore absurd to prohibit their adoptions merely because their children were either the biological or adopted children of one of the partners prior to the filing of the adoption petition."
A lawyer for one of 75 organizations that filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the case praised the ruling. "Today's decision is a complete victory for these families and for hundreds, if not thousands, of families like them," said Susan Frietsche of the Women's Law Project. "It's a long overdue acknowledgment of lesbian and gay families. These are absolute rights and benefits that you can't get securely in any way other than adoption."