Many North Dakota same-sex couples, like others around the country, are awaiting the impending decision by the U.S. Supreme Court over whether to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. Such legalization would indeed make life less complicated for same-sex parents. However, it would not necessarily solve all of their problems.
One official from the Family Equality Council cautions that “it doesn’t come close to solving all of the legal and recognition issues that same-sex couples and their children face.” In some states, including North Dakota, same-sex couples can still be prohibited from adopting or even fostering a child.
North Dakota state law does not explicitly prohibit lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals or couples from adopting a child. However, it does allow state-funded child welfare agencies to deny LGBT couples the right to foster or adopt a child if they cite religious grounds for doing so. Similar laws are under consideration in additional states.
There’s no doubt that a national legalization of same-sex marriage would help many families regarding things like veterans’ and Social Security benefits and recognition of their status as parents. However, states can still use other methods to allow discrimination if their elected officials choose to do so.
Adoption can be a complicated, frustrating, long process for anyone. Same-sex couples often find it even more difficult.Whatever the justices’ decision (expected any day now), North Dakota same-sex couples who want to open their home to a child who doesn’t have a family may need to seek legal guidance to help them navigate any hurdles that they find in their way.
Source: New York Times, “Same-Sex Parents’ Rights May Be Unresolved After Justices’ Ruling,” Tara Siegel Bernard, June 14, 2015