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Supreme Court Stops Alabama Order Voiding Same-Sex Adoption Temporarily

The temporary order, which enforces the woman's adoption of her ex-partner’s children, will remain in place while the justices decide whether to hear her case.

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Updated on

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday granted a lesbian woman's request to have the adoption of her former partner's children be enforced while the court decides whether to hear her appeal of an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that the adoption was void.

The U.S. Supreme Court has not yet said whether it will hear the appeal of the Alabama Supreme Court ruling, but on Monday granted the woman's request that the state court's ruling be recalled and stayed until it decides whether it will do so.

That request, filed in mid-November, features a complex case in which a lesbian couple in Alabama went to Georgia in 2007 so that one of those women, referred to as V.L. in court filings, could adopt the children of E.L.

Years later, when E.L. and V.L's relationship ended, V.L. sued in Alabama to have the adoption decree enforced for visitation and other parental purposes. Although a lower court sided with V.L., the Alabama Supreme Court ruled otherwise in September of this year, holding that the Georgia adoption was "void" because, the Alabama court maintained, it should not have been allowed under Georgia law.

V.L. asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision and to put it on hold, in order to allow her visitation, while the high court decides what to do. Notably, the guardian ad litem — the representative of the children's interests in the litigation — also weighed in at the U.S. Supreme Court, siding with V.L. and also asking for a stay.

The U.S. Supreme Court action on Monday recalls the Alabama Supreme Court's judgment and puts it on hold until the Supreme Court decides whether to grant V.L.'s petition for certiorari. If the petition is denied, the stay will "terminate automatically." If cert is granted, the stay will remain in place until the final mandate from the U.S. Supreme Court is issued. No justices noted their disagreement with the order.

Lawyers for E.L. are to file a response to V.L.'s cert petition by Dec. 29, meaning that the justices could consider the petition in time to be heard this term, which would mean a decision by late June should they decide to hear the case.

Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.

Contact Chris Geidner at chris.geidner@buzzfeed.com.

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