|Judges in Dane County, Wisconsin, have created a small legal workaround for same-sex couples. The Badger State, where gay marriage is still banned, has started granting adoptions to same-sex couples who have been married in other states, and has opened juvenile court records, which are typically closed, to let more same-sex couples know that they can adopt.“The tides are changing faster and faster, and the judges are seeing it,” said Kat Riley, who recently adopted her spouse’s biological daughter. Kat’s wife, Teresa Riley, was also able to adopt Kat’s biological son.
Both children, who were conceived with the help of sperm donors, had one legal parent prior to the ruling. Now, the kids have two legal parents, allowing them to have rights involved with insurance coverage, inheritance, child support, and death benefits from both Kat and Teresa. The ability to adopt the children has also provided the Rileys with greater responsibilities and rights.
Dane County Circuit Judge Shelley Gaylord approved the Riley family’s adoptions. According to a transcript of the closed hearing, Gaylord said she was bound to recognize the same-sex marriage as constitutionally valid.
Although Wisconsin has a same-sex marriage ban, the couple was married in Iowa. Gaylord said Kat and Teresa’s marriage had to be considered constitutionally valid because Wisconsin’s state Constitution has a full faith and credit clause, which requires states to honor each other’s laws.
Wisconsin is one out of 31 states that still has a ban on gay marriage, which is not all that surprising, considering how tricky it is for governments to revise and amend such laws. A state constitution can only be revised or amended via a constitutional convention, a commission-referred amendment process, an initiated constitutional amendment, or a legislatively referred constitutional amendment. What’s more, legal English is often tricky and complicated, having much of its terminology derived from Latin.
Given enough time, it’s more than likely that additional states will legalize gay marriages, but until, many same sex couples will have to work around them, as the Riley family and other couples in Wisconsin are.