Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Same-sex Adoptions

This past Wednesday, Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court voted to uphold a law banning same-sex couples from adopting children.

The majority, in a 5-4 vote, upheld the law that a person cannot adopt a single-parent child if that parent is of the same sex as the person attempting to adopt the child, without the original single-parent losing their rights.

The Washington Post cites the majority’s opinion that “The state . . . has not criminalized their sentimental relationship, but it does not have a constitutional obligation to award this relationship the same rights that other relationships have when it comes to adoption procedures.”

This is the first time Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court directly addressed the issue of  same-sex adoptions.  The case was filed by an unidentified woman who has been seeking to adopt the 12-year-old child of her partner of more than 20 years.  According to the Washington Post, she has been seeking adoption for the past eight years.

In addition to upholding the ban, the majority also found that “second-parent adoptions” do not apply in Puerto Rico.  Puerto Rican laws do not address situations in which a child would be registered to two mothers or two fathers in second-parent adoptions.

The Court held that it should be left to legislators to change the laws as they see fit, and that “Starting today, the applicant should channel her efforts through the Legislative Assembly.”

Chief Justice Federico Hernandez Denton, who dissented from the ruling, called the law unconstitutional, and criticized the majority’s strict interpretation of Puerto Rico’s constitution “as if it were an ancient manuscript encapsulated in a crystal urn.”

In addition, spokesman Osvaldo Burgos for CABE, a local human rights umbrella group commented that: “This opinion saddens us because we know that today they have emotionally destroyed a Puerto Rican family and left it without legal protections.”

Furthermore, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Puerto Rico, William Ramirez, gave hope to Human Rights activists when he commented that the Court’s ruling will not set a strong precedent as “With a new set of facts in a future case, there’s room to believe this could change.”

What do you think?  Do you agree with Ramirez and Justice Hernandez or do you agree with the court’s majority holding?  Furthermore, in our continually evolving society do you agree with Justice Hernandez’s implication that this ruling is outdated and needs to be modified to accommodate people with varying family and social values?

SOURCE: The Washington Post

PHOTO: Photobucket.com

3 comments

  1. Personally, I agree with Justice Hernandez’s implication. This ruling is severely outdated. Times, situations, and people evolve throughout the years, and our laws must reflect this change. This law absolutely needs to be modified to accommodate people with varying family and social values. Isn’t a child better off with two parents, rather than one? I think the saddest part about this law is the loss of hope of so many families. They were probably counting down the days for this law to be decided. They were let down and some of their lives ruined when the vote did not come back in their favor. Maybe there is some way for the law to be modified to fit the growing needs of society. Until then, same-sex parents will continue to be denied rights based on their sexual orientation.

  2. I totally agree with Ramirez and Justice Hernandez in that the majority got it wrong. Osvaldo Burgos sums up my opinion on the ruling; he states that a family is now emotionally destroyed and left without legal protections. Here, this woman wants to help her partner take on the responsibilities of caring for her child, a decision that I believe public policy would want to support. She has been in this child’s life for a long time and the child probably already sees her as a parent figure. She wants the legal status as one of the child’s parents because if anything were ever to happen to her partner, the child would be cared for. In terms of precedent, if this holding is expanded to prevent same-sex couples from adopting, this would take away the opportunity for Puerto Rican children to be adopted into supportive and caring homes. I really hope that this holding is not expanded and instead, is eventually overruled.

  3. I’m confused when I see Puerto Rico upholding its ban on same-sex adoptions while the country’s Democratic Party tries to push a law through the legislature to outlaw discriminatory practices based on gender or sexual orientation. An article in the Miami Herald begins with a statement that I can’t agree with in light of Puerto Rico’s recent decision on adoptions: “The advance of gay rights across the United States is spreading into Puerto Rico, making the island a relatively gay-friendly outpost in a Caribbean region where sodomy laws and harassment of gays are still common.” I have a hard time characterizing a place as being “gay-friendly” when we clearly see the struggles that gay couples must face there every day. While I agree that Puerto Rico has come far in its willingness to engage in discussions about same-sex equality and the protection of other human rights, I can’t help but think that they should be further along – that we all should be further along – in accepting same-sex couples and protecting their rights.

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