Critics: Utah bill favoring heterosexual parents in adoptions is ‘unconstitutional’

The judge cited the child’s well-being as the reason for his order, but after an intense outcry and concerns from state welfare officials, the judge reversed his decision and took himself off the case.

The Supreme Court ruling did not explicitly address the issue that Powell is raising but did declare that same-sex couples have a right to marriage and all the rights and benefits enjoyed by married heterosexual couples, said Douglas NeJaime, faculty director of the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

He said that when it comes to adoptions, the law allows judges a limited ability to consider things like marital status. But a blanket preference for married heterosexual couples over married gay couples is very likely unconstitutional, NeJaime said.

Another Utah lawmaker has a proposal opposing Powell’s that would ensure all married couples are treated equally in adoptions or foster placements.

The bill from state Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, would change Utah’s adoption laws favoring a married man and woman to the words “couple” or “spouse.”

“I just want to ensure that all families have the same rights,” Romero said. “We have different formations of families, and I think it’s important to acknowledge that these different formations are healthy and that we should embrace all of our community.”

She declined to comment on Powell’s bill, saying she hasn’t seen it yet. Powell said his proposal will be released in about a week.

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