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Same Sex Marriage is Prohibited by Law in PA- How Does This Affect Same-Sex Adoptions?

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Despite statutory language to the contrary that all same-sex marriages are prohibited in PA, same-sex couples may adopt.

By Attorney Jeffrey B. Engle, Gay Couples Adoption Lawyer, Harrisburg, PA

Same-sex marriages are void by statute in PA since 1996.  However, they are legal in some states, such as: Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington-as well as the District of Columbia and three Native American tribes-have legalized same-sex marriage. In addition, California, which briefly granted same-sex marriages in 2008, recognizes them on a conditional basis.

What does the law say in PA?

23 Pa.C.S. §1704- Marriage between persons of the same sex

It is hereby declared to be the strong and longstanding public policy of this Commonwealth that marriage shall be between one man and one woman. A marriage between persons of the same sex which was entered into in another state or foreign jurisdiction, even if valid where entered into, shall be void in this Commonwealth.

If Marriage between Same-Sex partners is prohibited, how does this affect adoptions by the same?

Surprisingly, same-sex adoptions is permissible in PA.  The PA Domestic Relations law in Chapter Three provides:

§ 2312. Who may adopt.

Any individual may become an adopting parent. 

The PA Supreme Court in In re Adoption of R.B.F., 569 Pa. 269 (2002) held, in relevant portion as follows:  "Furthermore, a contrary interpretation of the cause shown language would command an absurd result as the Adoption Act does not expressly preclude same-sex partners from adopting."

Adoptions by same-sex partners is not prohibited.  However, issues can arise where the parties have utilized the services of a fertilization clinic to conceive the child.  Such issues are usually dealt with on a contractual basis and care must be taken to avoid potential legal entanglements in the adoption process.

If you have questions or concerns regarding a same-sex adoption, you may contact us at Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us today. 

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