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Same-Sex Marriage Battles Are Far From Over In Florida

(GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

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Casey Harper Contributor
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Florida same-sex couples are still fighting one of the remaining battles of the gay marriage fight in Florida.

Kari and Debbie Chin began dating in college at the University of Florida and had a commitment ceremony in 2001. When they gave birth to their second child in February, they were told both their names could not be on the birth certificate, and they aren’t happy about it.

They filed suit against the state of Florida in August, and Wednesday requested the federal court decide the case without a trial, saying the evidence of unequal treatment is so great that a trial is unnecessary. They didn’t have much hope their first child could have both names on the certificate, but since the Supreme Court recognized same-sex marriage in June they argue this time it’s different.

“I’m just as much of a parent as Kari and as anyone else with children,” Debbie says in a statement. “It was humiliating to be denied the right to have my name added to our son’s birth certificate. All we want to do is love, protect, and provide the best opportunities for our children and to be treated equally under the law. Without being on our son’s birth certificate, in the event of an emergency or if something were ever to happen to my wife, I am not sure where that would leave us.”

Legal disputes over gay Americans adopting their own children is one of same-sex marriage’s final frontiers.

A similar case has made headlines in Alabama. A lesbian woman is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her case after the Alabama Supreme Court stripped her of her adoptive rights as a same-sex adoptive parent.

The case centered around a lesbian couple who shared custody of three children but eventually split up. One of them gave birth to the children with the help of a sperm donor, and her partner later adopted the children while living in Georgia so they could both be the official, legal parents.

After the couple parted ways, the biological mother, who now lives in Alabama, tried to keep the children from the adoptive mother, spurring the legal battle. The Alabama Supreme Court heard the case and ruled in September that Alabama did not have to recognize the adoption made in Georgia, effectively stripping the adoptive mother of her rights to the children.

The court reasoned that Georgia did not properly rule on its own laws regarding same-sex adoption and that the state has a vested interest in making sure adopted children have good homes, something gay rights groups have issues with.

The June U.S. Supreme Court ruling that recognized same-sex marriages nationwide has put pressure on states’ adoption policies, but whether same-sex couples are allowed to adopt still varies by state. Now the adoptive mother wants her case to be heard by the Supreme Court.

She is one of many gay Americans litigating to find the new normal for adoption since the nationwide recognition of same-sex marriage.

“I love my children more than anything,” says the mother seeking to regain her adoptive access and who has remained anonymous. “I haven’t had visitation with my kids since April, and there isn’t a moment that goes by that I don’t think about them and pray that we’ll be able to be together again soon. I just want to hold them and feel their arms around me.”

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