It took five long years, but same-sex couples in Maricopa County, Arizona, finally have the same adoption rights as opposite-sex couples. The old law barred gay and lesbian parents from using the state’s free legal services. Read on for the full story.
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Same-Sex Couples in This Arizona County Can Finally Adopt Without Jumping Through Hoops
Arizona started recognizing same-sex marriages in 2014, less than one year before the Obergefell ruling. However, up until this week, same-sex couples in at least one county faced nearly insurmountable challenges when it came to adoption.
Former Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery blocked same-sex couples from receiving access to the free adoption legal services offered to opposite-sex couples. Because of that, it became almost impossible for the same-sex couples to adopt kids.
The ACLU opposed Montgomery’s bill from the beginning. At one point, early one, the state actually passed a bill that would make it easier the county attorneys to discriminate against the LGBT+ community and deny adoption services to same-sex couples. Fortunately, Governor Doug Ducey vetoed it.
So, instead of allowing same-sex couples access to the free legal services already provided to heterosexual couples in cases of uncontested adoptions, Montgomery instead offered to pay the fees so the couples could adopt through outside firms.
A problematic “compromise”
There were two obvious problems with this. First, the “compromise” still discriminates against gay and lesbian couples. Plain and simple, they still didn’t have access to the same rights and legal representation as their opposite-sex counterparts.
Second, Claudia Work, one of the attorney who worked on these private adoptions said that couples couldn’t even find the information they needed to access the free legal services.
It went deep underground. I could not even find the number to call to get referred to one of these outside, third-party vendors.
County Attorney Allister Adel, who replaced Montgomery last year, reversed her predecessor’s rule. She told e AZ Central:
Gay marriage, that’s old news. If a gay couple wants to adopt under this, they can.
She also said that by reversing Montgomery’s decision, the county would save about $750,000 a year.
Once we realized how much money we were saving not only for taxpayers, but getting children out of the system and into loving homes, this was something we absolutely had to do.
As Claudia Work say, this move is “a big step forward.” Thanks to this, the LGBT+ couples in Arizona will be able to adopt and start their families without jumping through quite so many hoops.