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Arizona county ends anti-gay & lesbian adoption rule to save money

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A five-year-old rule put in place in Arizona to make it harder for same-sex couples to adopt has just been been overturned by the new county attorney.

In 2015, just after a court legalized marriage equality in Arizona, former Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery tried to block same-sex couples from getting free adoption legal services, which his office offers to opposite-sex couples.

Related: As states restrict gay adoptions, Connecticut is recruiting more LGBTQ parents

The ACLU of Arizona pushed back against his anti-LGBTQ policy. The state legislature even passed a bill that would have allowed county attorneys to discriminate, but the governor vetoed it.

Montgomery still refused to provide the legal services to same-sex couples, instead paying for those couples to get help from outside firms, a move that LGBTQ advocates said made it difficult for same-sex couples to adopt.

Montgomery was appointed to the state supreme court last year and was replaced by County Attorney Allister Adel (R), who reversed the rule.

“Gay marriage, that’s old news,” she told AZ Central. “If a gay couple wants to adopt under this, they can.”

She said that reversing Montgomery’s policy will save the county $750,000 a year.

“Once we realized how much money we were saving not only for taxpayers, but getting children out of the system and into loving homes, this was something we absolutely had to do,” Adel said.

Attorney Claudia Work, who has worked on private adoptions, said that the move is “a big step forward.”

She said that same-sex couples had trouble even getting contact information for the necessary legal work to adopt.

“It went deep underground,” she said. “I could not even find the number to call to get referred to one of these outside, third-party vendors.”

Adel was appointed to county attorney by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors last October after Montgomery was appointed to the state’s high court. She is running unopposed for the position in a primary and will face a Democratic opponent in the general election in November.

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