Historic Supreme Court Decision is a Victory for Children and FamiliesChild Abuse & Neglect Child Rights Early Childhood
The majority opinion, authored by Justice Kennedy, explicitly recognized that this decision would have a positive impact on the lives of children. Specifically, the majority held, “without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, their [same-sex couples’] children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life…the marriage laws at issue here thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples.”
Indeed, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, who were parties to the case fostered and then adopted a baby boy. However, in Michigan, they were precluded from jointly adopting the child as a same-sex couple. Rowse adopted the boy legally as a single parent, leaving DeBoer with no legal rights over their child. DeBoer could not enroll Rowse’s adopted son in school or make medical decisions for him. If Rowse were to pass away, the DeBoer would have no legal rights over the child she had co-parented.
DeBoer and Rowse’s story is just one of the many examples that Friday’s ruling will hopefully rectify. Same-sex parents have faced many obstacles, including listing their children as dependents for tax purpose and not being able to have their children claim disability benefits if the parent dies or is incapacitated. Work remains to be done to ensure that policies and practices on the ground recognize same-sex marriages and the privileges afforded to married couples and their children. Regardless, by recognizing that families with same-sex parents should be treated equally, the Supreme Court has made significant progress in ensuring the well being of hundreds of thousands of children and their families.
Want to learn more? First Focus is a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. Read more about our work on child rights.