Will The Supreme Court's Gay Marriage Ruling Make Adoption Easier For Same-Sex Couples?

With the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision upon us, it's hard not to feel a little exhilarated. Marriage equality has swept through all 50 states by way of judicial decision, or will the court's conservative wing hand down a setback to this sweeping social progress? In any event, there are all sorts of questions that come along with either option, and a big one is how it'll affect not just same-sex spouses, but their would-be children, too. So, will legal same-sex marriage make gay adoption easier?

It's a natural thing to consider, since same-sex couples who want to marry and start a family could very well decide to adopt, and it's a practice that many conservative politicians and voters still regard as controversial. Luckily, in spite of this, the right for gay and lesbian parents to adopt is actually fairly well-established in a majority of U.S. states — while legal second-parent adoption is most prevalent (when a step-parent adopts their partner's child, for example), even joint adoption (two partners bringing a new child into the family) has a very strong foothold.

At present writing, a whopping 35 states allow both joint and second-parent adoption for same-sex couples. This is actually two less than the number of states which currently have marriage equality, a result of the Supreme Court's sweeping influence — 2013's United States v. Windsor is what set off the marriage equality explosion that's now sweeping the nation, setting a high scourt precedent that state courts have been deferring to time and time again.

In addition to those 35 joint adoption states, four more either allow second-parent adoption or joint adoption only. A mere two states actually have outright bans on gay adoption — Michigan and Missouri. According to the Family Equality Council, 71 percent of LGBT Americans live in state where they can apply for a joint adoption, and that's good news, because there are more than enough children who need happy, supportive homes.

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But even with the current state of progress on gay adoption, there's no denying that widespread marriage equality could help grease the wheels, so to speak, especially by normalizing the idea of same-sex parentage in the eyes of society at large.


After all, this is exactly the trend we saw in the same-sex marriage debate — the more open and recognized the loving, caring lives of same-sex spouses and their children are, the more people who might have harbored prejudices can be swayed. The figures, courtesy of Gallup's historical tracking poll, tell the tale: a robust 66 percent of Americans now support gay adoption rights, and that number figures to keep climbing as LGBT rights become less a topic of argument, and more a basic truth.

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