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The impending Supreme Court decision and gay parents' rights

We talked recently about the anticipation by Texas same-sex couples of the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on the national legalization of same-sex marriage. That decision is expected before the end of June.

Such recognition would give couples in states including Texas some legal rights and protections that they haven't had. However, even if same-sex marriage becomes legal, gay couples may still face limitations under the law that their straight friends do not.

Politicians and other leaders who have been slow to accept same-sex marriage can find other ways to stymie couples' efforts to start a family. Some states have been able to prohibit adoption and even fostering by gay couples. They've done this by allowing child welfare agencies funded by the state to deny services to these couples on religious grounds. North Dakota and Virginia have these religious exemption laws. Michigan just passed one. Similar legislation has been proposed in Texas.

The nine Supreme Court justices (or at least five of them) could make a big difference in the lives of Texas' same-sex couples within the next couple of weeks. However, the complicated situation they find themselves in if they want to give a child a home, whether through the foster care system or through an adoption agency, may not get any easier.

There could also be continued problems with both members of a couple being recognized as a child's legal parent. This can impact such seemingly simple activities as going to the pediatrician. It will be essential for couples who are or want to be parents to know what their legal rights and protections are and how to fight for them.

Source: New York Times, "Same-Sex Parents’ Rights May Be Unresolved After Justices’ Ruling," Tara Siegel Bernard, June 14, 2015

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