Utah officials are attempting to block adoptions by same-sex couples.
The office of Utah’s attorney general petitioned the state’s Supreme Court this week to suspend adoptions of children by married gay and lesbian couples.
The petitions for Emergency Extraordinary Relief, filed Monday and Wednesday, ask the court to overrule orders from judges who have already approved adoptions, many of which were filed after Utah’s ban on marriage equality was briefly overturned in December. More than 1,300 same-sex couples married in the 17 days before the U.S. Supreme Court placed a stay on the ruling. The issue was argued before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Thursday.
But the move by the attorney general’s office has pushed married same-sex couples like Kimberly and Amber Leary, who filed for second-parent adoption days after marrying, further into legal limbo.
One petition from the state challenges the decision of district court judge Elizabeth A. Hruby-Mills, who had approved the second-parent adoption by the Learys. The petition states that Hruby-Mills’s ruling “authorizes the department to violate the plain text of the Utah Constitution and Utah law prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriage…”
“The trial court abused its discretion,” the state's brief continued.
As a result, the couple was turned away Wednesday from Utah's Department of Health, where they had hoped to walk away with a birth certificate that listed Kimberly Leary as a parent to their 15-month-old daughter. Amber, the biological mother, is the only parent currently listed. The family will now have to wait for an appeal of the petition.
The couple's legal representative, Laura Gray, spoke to Salt Lake City's Fox13, chastizing the attorney general’s move to ban adoptions.
“They claim that they want to protect Utah’s children, but they are intentionally harming these children by injecting themselves into these cases,” Gray said. “We don’t understand why the attorney general has to take this extraordinary step of now trying to undo completed adoptions.”
Watch the full Fox13 report below.