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The Supreme Court Says Alabama Has to Recognize a Gay Mom's Child Custody Rights

The justices unanimously overruled the State Supreme Court about eight months after legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

Photo via Flickr user Ted Eytan

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On Monday, the US Supreme Court unanimously reversed a decision by the highest court in Alabama denying a lesbian mother joint custody of her three children, as USA Today reports.

After one woman identified in court documents only as EL gave birth to three children via a donor in Georgia, she and her partner—VL—moved to Alabama, where they subsequently split. Georgia courts later granted VL custody and visitation. But in September, Alabama's Supreme Court decided to deny her those rights, suggesting Georgia had messed up by allowing the adoption to go through in the first place.

There are an estimated 65,000 adopted children nationwide living with a gay or lesbian parent, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA. Rather than making the case about social progress, though, VL's lawyers successfully argued Alabama was infringing the Constitution's "faith and credit" clause by declining to respect or accept the ruling of a judge in another state.

"I am overjoyed that the US Supreme Court reversed the Alabama court decision," VL said Monday, according to NBC News. "I have been my children's mother in every way for their whole lives. I thought that adopting them meant that we would be able to be together always. The Supreme Court has done what's right for my family."

The ruling comes a little over eight months after the Supreme Court decided same-sex marriage is a constitutionally-guaranteed right across America.