Same-sex family sues State of Alabama for recognition

couple

Mobile Alabama Attorneys, Christine Hernandez and David Kennedy, filed a lawsuit Wednesday in federal court on behalf of two mothers, Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand, along with their son, K.S., challenging Alabama’s refusal to allow their child the benefits of having two legal parents.

Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand have been in a committed relationship for over 15 years. They were legally married in California in September of 2008 and together share in the parental responsibilities for their child. McKeand gave birth to their son in 2005 who was conceived with the help of a donor.

The family has resided in Mobile, Alabama since 2001.

Because of Alabama’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage which states: “The State shall not recognize as valid any marriage of parties of the same sex that occurred or was alleged to have occurred as a result of the law of any jurisdiction regardless of whether a marriage license was issued.”

Searcy and McKeand are considered legal strangers in their home state, thus preventing their son from having two legal parents.

“I am a parent in every way to our son, but legally I am still considered a stranger” said Searcy. “We just want our son to have the same protections and securities as other Alabama families.”

“Simply put, while K.S. was born to and has always lived in a two parent home, he is not allowed the same legal benefits and protections that any other child would receive in Alabama because he
has two moms,” said Kennedy.

The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals has denied the family’s formal attempts to establish a legal two parent home for the benefit of the child because of the Alabama Constitutional ban. Alabama is one of a handful of states that does not allow children of same-sex couples to enjoy the benefits of having two legal parents.

The Complaint filed in Federal Court today states, that Parenting one’s children is a fundamental right and Alabama has a long history in permitting the spouse of a parent to adopt the children of that spouse pursuant to the Alabama Adoption Statute §26-10A-27 (1975) which states “[a]ny person may adopt his or her spouse’s child according to the provisions of this chapter.”

The federal lawsuit, which names Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and Attorney General Luther Strange as defendants, contends that the use of the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment to
deny Searcy’s petition to adopt the couple’s son, violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which provides equal protection under the law and due process as well as the Full
Faith and Credit Clause.

“Because the legislature and the state government refuses to recognize the marriage of same sex couples; the little boy born to this married couple, has been denied the right and protection to
have two legally recognized parents” says Hernandez. “A law that is based on irrational prejudice with no legitimate purpose is unconstitutional.”

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