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NOM Pushes Last Minute Adoption Distortions To Sway New York Marriage Vote

June 15, 2011 6:39 pm ET by Carlos Maza

Now that the New York legislature is one vote away from legalizing same-sex marriage, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is scrambling to put pressure on the handful of Senate Republicans who have expressed openness to endorsing the bill.

On Wednesday, the group released its “legal analysis” of the bill, warning that same-sex marriage would force Catholic adoption agencies to shut down and prohibit parents from controlling their children’s education:

“Andrew Cuomo’s last minute language, added without time for review in order to pick off GOP votes, clearly failed to protect many religious organizations and individuals. Groups including Catholic adoption agencies will be at risk and it will do nothing to protect the rights of parents concerning their children’s education,” said Brown.

NOM’s fear-mongering about children’s education is nothing new. Their propaganda campaign in New York has revolved heavily around the already thoroughly debunked claim that same-sex marriage will be taught in schools, just like in Massachusetts. 

NOM’s concerns about Catholic adoption agencies are even sillier though:

“New York adoption and discrimination laws are particularly complex,” said Josh Baker, NOM’s legal analyst. “Without a very clear exemption, Catholic Charities is likely to be forced to shut adoption and foster care services due to the cost of litigation that would threaten its many other charities.”

Just one problem, NOM: New York state law already explicitly prohibits discrimination against same-sex couples in the provision of adoption services, and has for years.

According to the Human Rights Campaign:

New York Adoption Law

Permits single GLBT individuals to petition to adopt? Yes.
New York law allows an unmarried adult or a married couple jointly to petition to adopt. (N.Y. DOM. REL. § 110)

Permits a same-sex couple to jointly petition to adopt? Yes.
A 2002 decision affirmed the state’s adoption law "does not prohibit adoption by a couple, neither of whom is a biological parent." In the Matter of Jacob, 660 NE.2d 397 (N.Y. 1995). Technically, Jacob did not address the issue of unmarried couples seeking to adopt a child who is not the biological child of either person (see n.3 of the opinion).  However, other lower courts have cited the case for the proposition that unmarried couples can jointly petition to adopt.

Lower courts that have relied on Jacob: In re Adoption of Joseph, 684 N.Y.S.2d 760 (N.Y. Sur. Ct. 1998); In re Adoption of Emilio R., 293 A.D.2d 27, (N.Y. App. Div. 2002); In re Adoption of Carolyn B., 774 N.Y.S.2d 227 (N.Y. App. Div. 2004).

Permits a same-sex co-parent to petition to adopt partner’s child or child of the relationship? Yes.
In 1995, the New York Appeals Court (the state’s highest court) ruled that a same-sex co-parent could adopt her partner’s child or child of the relationship.
(In the Matter of Jacob, 660 N.E.2d 397 (N.Y. 1995)).

Details: New York law permits an adult or a married couple to petition to adopt. The state regulation reads, "[a]pplicants shall not be rejected solely on the basis of homosexuality." N.Y. COMP. CODES R. & REGS. tit. 18, § 421.16(h)(2) [emphasis added]

More importantly, New York already recognizes same-sex marriages performed out-of-state. In 2008, then-Governor David Paterson issued a directive requiring state agencies to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages and provide those marriages with equal adoption rights:

Paterson issued a memo earlier this month saying that gay New Yorkers who marry where it is legal will have the right to share family health care plans, receive tax breaks by filing jointly, enjoy stronger adoption rights and inherit property.

He cited a February ruling in a New York Appellate Division court in which the judges determined that there is no legal impediment in New York to the recognition of a same-sex marriage.

Not surprisingly, Catholic adoption agencies continue to provide services in New York State.

Apparently, NOM’s expert “legal analysis” does not include doing a quick Google search about what New York adoption laws actually look like.

Why does anyone take this organization seriously?

Special thanks to Family Equality Council for providing background information for this post. 


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