Ducey Directs Department Of Child Safety To Allow Married Same-Sex Parents To Adopt

By Alexandra Olgin
Published: Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 5:15pm
Updated: Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 5:22pm
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(Photo courtesy of the Office of the Arizona State Treasurer)
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

Married same-sex parents will now be able to jointly adopt a child in state care. Last night, Gov. Doug Ducey ordered the Department of Child Safety to allow both parents to be listed on adoption licenses. This overrides legal advice the Attorney General gave the agency in February.

Last October, gay marriage became legal in Arizona. Shortly after, the Department of Child Safety started to license both parents on adoption certificates. But then the Arizona Attorney General’s office counseled the agency that wasn’t legal, so DCS halted the practice. DCS didn’t stop same-sex couples from adopting, it just allowed only one parent to be on the license. Arizona law has two separate sections for marriage and adoption.

Adoption attorney Gregg Woodnick said the state is interpreting a federal court ruling on same-sex marriage verbatim.

“It seems to me intellectually dishonest to suggest that just because the Ninth [U.S.] Circuit [Court of Appeals] didn’t use the word adoption in the statute that it somehow it doesn’t apply to title 8,” he said. “Title 8 language is a little bit antiquated.”

It says a husband and wife may jointly adopt. Woodnick said he interprets the statute based on the marriage ruling as gender neutral. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery disagrees. He has refused to offer same-sex couples the same free legal adoption help it offers straight couples.

He said he is waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case on same-sex marriage next week.

“I’m pretty sure they are going to issue an opinion shortly thereafter which is going to provide all the necessary clarity one way or the other," he said.

State law requires county attorneys to provide free legal help to parents wanting a simple adoption.

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