The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Friday that a same-sex married couple is legally allowed to adopt a child.
In a unanimous decision, the court overturned a lower court ruling that had barred two women from adopting the 3-year-old girl who had lived with them since she was born.
The women, identified in court papers as Kelly H. and Maria V. got married in California in 2008.
In May 2020 they sought to adopt the child, but Dixon County Judge Douglas Luebe denied the petition, saying that he had no jurisdiction to grant their request, because a law dictionary defined the term “wife” as “a woman who has a lawfully living husband.”
The Nebraska Supreme Court has reversed a ruling by a Dixon County judge who denied a same-sex couple’s petition to adopt a child. The reversal comes in the case of two married women who sought last year to adopt a 3-year-old child.
According to the Omaha World-Herald, Luebe — who described himself as “old fashioned” — said that the “plain ordinary language” adoption law in Nebraska didn’t permit a “wife and wife” to adopt. Any other conclusion would turn the court into an “imagination station,” he said.
The state’s top court disagreed, ruling that the plain language of the state law does permit “a same-sex married couple to adopt a minor child,” Justice William B. Cassel wrote for the high court.
The statute provides that “any minor child may be adopted by any adult person or persons.” It also requires that if the would-be adopter has “a husband or wife,” that husband or wife must join in the adoption petition.
“In the language of the statute, Yasmin is ‘any minor child,’ while Kelly and Maria are ‘any adult person or persons,’” the justices wrote.
In this case, “the wife joined in the petition for adoption.” The plain language of the statue “allows a same-sex married couple to adopt.”
The American Civil Liberty Union of Nebraska, the nonprofit representing the two women, celebrated the ruling on social media.
“The Court’s decision says it clearly: adoption equality is the plain letter of the law,” the organization tweeted.
Sara Rips, an attorney for the organization said that the ruling should solidify that married same-sex couples have the same rights as married heterosexual couples.
“But I think there will always be challenges,” she said according to The Associated Press. “I think we have a lot of fight left to go.”