This week, Utah same-sex couples received long-awaited news: The state's Supreme Court has decided to lift the a stay that had halted all pending adoptions, reports the Salt Lake Tribune.
Beyond restarting adoptions put on hold, the decision also now allows the Utah Department of Health to issue birth certificates that list both same-sex partners as their child's legal parents.
Initially requested by Republican state attorney general Sean Reyes in May, the stay affected many same-sex couples who were married in December of last year during a brief window in which the state's ban on marriage equality was overturned. After 17 days and more than 1,300 same-sex marriages, the U.S. Supreme court put a stay on the ruling that struck down the ban, lifting the ban, and the now legally married couples who were seeking second-parent adoptions were thrown into legal limbo.
Because Utah does not offer second-parent adoptions, only biological parents could be legally listed on their child's birth certificate, making non-gestational parents non-custodial, and therefore vulnerable to losing their children.
Two weeks ago, Attorney General Reyes reversed his stance on the issue and asked his state's high court to lift the stay and any pending adoptions. The Tribune attributes the change in Reyes' position to the U.S. Supreme Court's October 6 decision to let stand lower court rulings affirming marriage equality in five states, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in Utah.
For the past two weeks, Utah's same-sex couples have been steadily finalizing and filing adoption petitions, hoping to secure full legal protections for both parents. Many are in a hurry, family attorney Laura Milliken Gray told the Tribune, "because some families worry that the Legislature is going to try and do something that will once again interfere with their rights."
While several conservative Utah lawmakers have said they will examine their state's marriage laws and consider redrafting statues affecting same-sex couples, including parental rights, no such legislation has yet been introduced.