The Nebraska Supreme Court has reversed a ruling by a judge who denied a lesbian couple’s petition to adopt a child because he said a dictionary defined a “wife” as having a husband.
Last year, two married women sought to adopt a three-year-old child whom they had raised since her birth.
According to the Omaha World-Herald, the two women married in California and 2008. The case involved their efforts to adopt a young girl that had been born to one woman’s sister in 2017.
The newspaper reported that the child’s biological mother relinquished custody, and her father never sought custody.
Dixon County Judge Douglas Luebe – who called himself “old-fashioned” during the adoption hearing – refused to allow the couple to adopt because he said he had no jurisdiction to grant the request to the women, who were listed in their petition as “wife and wife”.
He argued that a law dictionary defined “wife” as a “woman who has a lawful living husband”.
He concluded that the “plain ordinary language” of Nebraska’s state adoption law doesn’t permit “wife and wife” to stop and said any other conclusion would turn the court into an “imagination station”.
The women appealed and the state supreme court unanimously ruled in their favor, saying that a wife is “a married woman.”
Even with Luebe’s definition, the supreme court said that his logic didn’t make any sense. If the women aren’t wives, then the caveat doesn’t apply.
ACLU of Nebraska attorney Sara Rips, who represented the women, said that the victory is “huge” because it showed once again that same-sex couples are allowed to adopt in the state.
“I think there will always be challenges,” said Rips. “I think we have a lot of fight left to go.”