Election Central

Idaho Supreme Court sides with Boise lesbian couple in adoption case

In a unanimous opinion that sets a precedent for gay and other non-traditional couples, the Idaho Supreme Court cleared the way Monday for Darcy Drake Simpson to adopt two boys that until now have had just one legal parent, Simpson’s same-sex partner Rene Simpson.

The Boise couple, together since 1995, were married last year in California. Their adoption petition for the boys, ages 12 and 15, will be returned to Ada County Magistrate Cathleen MacGregor Irby, who took just 14 days last summer to deny the adoption.

Rene Simpson gave birth to her first son in 1998 and adopted a second boy as an infant in 2001.

MacGregor Irby had ruled that the couple must be in a legally recognized union. But the court found that the language of the law — that ‘any person’ may adopt a minor child — plainly allows adoptions by same-sex couples.

Wrote Justice Jim Jones for the court:

“In sum, the magistrate’s interpretation of Idaho law is simply not supported by the plain text of the statute. In light of the unambiguous language in I.C. § 16-1501 that allows for ‘any adult person residing in and having residence in Idaho’ to adopt ‘any minor child,’ and because chapter 15 contains no provisions that limit adoption to those who are married, Idaho’s adoption statutes plainly allow Jane Doe to adopt John Doe and John Doe I.”

Adoption cases are under seal, but Darcy Drake Simpson and Rene Simpson came forth in December hoping to raise awareness about the problems faced by families headed by same-sex couples.

One of the Boise couple’s lawyers, Bill Mauk, said the case would set a precedent for adoption not just by gay couples, but also for grandparents, aunts and uncles, and others.

MacGregor Irby, who had issued at least one similar denial to a same-sex couple, wrote on Sept. 13: “(T)his court concludes that the legislature’s intent in relation to adoptions is that the petitioner must be in a lawfully recognized union, i.e. married to the prospective adoptee’s parent, to have legal standing to file a petition to adopt that person’s biological or adopted child.”

To read the full opinion click here.

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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Posted in Election Central, Idaho Politics