Sunday, June 22, 2008


At the request of a new friend who is the AAC representative of Louisiana, I looked into their laws. I thought that Indiana was bad. Louisiana is even worse. She mentioned reading up on the Forced Inheritance laws. So I did. I also read up on their privacy laws and their access to the birth certificate laws.

Their constitution states:

In Section 24, the enumeration in this constitution of certain rights shall not deny or disparage other rights retained by the citizens of the state.

In Section 22, all courts shall be open, and every person shall have an adequate remedy by due process of law and justice administered without denial, partiality, or unreasonable delay, for injury to him in his person, property, reputation, or other rights.

In Section 12, in access to public areas, accommodations, and facilities, every person shall befree from discrimination based on race, religion, or national ancestry and from arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable discrimination based on age, sex, or physical condition.

Here comes the BIG exception: Adoption and the definition of illegitimate/legitimate children.

Yep they still have this little issue going on big in Louisiana. The shame of being adopted in encoded into their laws.

Lets look at the access to vital statistics by the non adopted. According to the Vital Statistics Registry in Louisiana:

"You may obtain a certified copy of a birth certificate if you are the person named on the document, spouse of the person named on the document, parent of the person named on the document, adult child of the person named on the document, sibling of the person named on the document, grandparent of the person named on the document, or an adult grandchild of the person named on the document (unless otherwise authorized by LA R.S. 40:41)."

There are very clear definitions of both legitimate and illegitimate children. This is pretty scary stuff in itself. Illegitimate children seem to lose rights based on their birth status.

Art. 179. Legitimate children.

Legitimate children are those who are either born or conceived during marriage or who have been legitimated as provided hereafter.

Amended by Acts 1979, No. 607, §1.

Art. 180. Illegitimate children.

Illegitimate children are those who are conceived and born out of marriage.

Amended by Acts 1979, No. 607, §1.

Art. 238. Illegitimate children, freedom from parental authority.

Illegitimate children generally speaking, belong to no family, and have no relations; accordingly they are not submitted to the paternal authority, even when they have been legally acknowledged.

Art. 245. Custody of illegitimate children acknowledged by both parents

In a proceeding in which custody of an illegitimate child formally acknowledged by both parents is sought by both parents, and in proceedings for change of custody after an original award, custody shall be awarded in accordance with the provisions on custody incident to divorce contained in Title V of this Book.

Added by Acts 1983, No. 215, §1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1993, No. 261, §2, eff. Jan. 1, 1994.


Art. 256. Illegitimate children

A. The mother is of right the tutrix of her illegitimate child not acknowledged by the father, or acknowledged by him alone without her concurrence.

B. After the death of the mother, if the father had not acknowledged the child prior to the mother's death, the court shall give first consideration to appointment as tutor either of her parents or siblings who survive her and accept the appointment, and secondly, the father, always taking into consideration the best interests of the child.

C. If both parents have acknowledged their illegitimate child, the judge shall appoint as tutor the one by whose care the best interests of the child will be served. However, if the parents are awarded joint custody of such acknowledged illegitimate child, then the cotutorship of such child shall belong of right to both parents, with equal authority, privileges, and responsibilities, unless modified by order of the court or by an agreement of the parents, approved by the court awarding joint custody.

Acts 1983, No. 215, §1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.


Art. 261. Illegitimate child.

The father or mother who is entitled to the tutorship of the illegitimate child, according to the provisions of Article 256, can choose a tutor for him, whose appointment, to be valid, must be approved by the judge.

Amended by Acts 1979, No. 607, §1.

Forced inheritance law is another thing that is somewhat confusing. Illegitimate children do not have the right to inherit from their parents. Parents don't have the right to inherit from their illegitmate. It took a couple of cases to change the law. In most states, the law was changed. It was not however changed in Louisiana. They still defend their laws to this day as promotion of marriage and family.

Here is the article link. Here is the story.

Children of no one

Once, out of wedlock meant out of luck for kids and parents. That began to change in 1968.
By Nancy Polikoff
May 20, 2008
It's the 1968 revolution you never heard of. Forty years ago today, tucked in between the assassinations of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling repudiated centuries of settled law by granting constitutional recognition and protection to a previously outcast group: children born outside of marriage and their parents.

The cases arose out of two private tragedies in Louisiana. Minnie Glona's 19-year-old son was killed in a car accident. Louise Levy, a mother of five who worked as a domestic, died after a doctor failed to diagnose her hypertension uremia. Glona sued for wrongful death; so did Levy's children.

But lower courts threw out their cases. Why? Because Louisiana law specifically blocked a parent's recovery for the death of a child, or a child's recovery for the death of a parent, if the child was born outside marriage. Both Glona and Levy were unmarried.

This family-law apartheid in Louisiana law had ancient roots. Under common law, a child born outside marriage used to be fillius nullius, the child of no one. In the Middle Ages, it was even a lesser crime to kill a person who had been born to an unmarried woman. In the U.S., well into the 1960s, such a child's birth certificate might be stamped "bastard."

In such a climate, it's no wonder that "shotgun weddings" assured that many children conceived outside marriage were nonetheless born to a married couple. For those women who did not marry, more than 25,000 a year went to more than 200 "homes for unwed mothers," where they gave birth secretly and usually relinquished their babies for adoption. Few admitted women who were African American, however. And mothers who did keep their children faced social stigma, discrimination in access to public benefits and laws like those in Louisiana marking the family as second-class.

But by the late 1960s, the sexual revolution was well underway. The birth control pill made it practical for women to separate sex from childbearing, and sex without marriage lost its taboo status. As the Vietnam War dragged on, "make love, not war" became one of the most resonant slogans of the decade.

Nonetheless, Louisiana fiercely defended its statutes. In its brief to the Supreme Court, it maintained that it was not trying to punish or discriminate against anyone. It declared: "Louisiana's purposes ... are positive ones: the encouragement of marriage as one of the most important institutions known to law, the preservation of the legitimate family as the preferred environment for socializing the child. ... Since marriage as an institution is fundamental to our existence as a free nation, it is the duty of ... Louisiana to encourage it. One method of encouraging marriage is granting greater rights to legitimate offspring."

The Supreme Court rejected this reasoning. It refused to penalize either the Levy or the Glona families with the loss of financial compensation simply because the children were born outside of marriage. Encouraging marriage and expressing disapproval of nonmarital sex were no longer constitutionally sufficient reasons to deny equal rights to children or to their parents.

Over the next several years, the Supreme Court reinforced this position, requiring states to allow nonmarital families access to public benefits and giving all children a right to financial support from their parents. When Joan Stanley died and Illinois sought to take custody of her three children away from their father, Peter, because Joan and Peter had never married, the court ruled that all fathers, not just married ones, had a constitutional right to a relationship with their children. And although that result must seem obvious today (how could it be good for grieving children to automatically remove them from their surviving parent?), it was so revolutionary in 1972 that it required every state in the country to overhaul their statutes -- more than had to do so after the landmark Roe vs. Wade abortion decision the following year.

Like so many others, this quiet revolution of 1968 is incomplete. Levy's children were entitled to compensation for her wrongful death, but in most states today her unmarried partner still would not be. Allowing same-sex couples to marry, as California will after last week's state Supreme Court ruling and as Massachusetts has for years, does nothing to erase the distinction between married couples and everyone else. Those who defend such distinctions may assert that they do not intend to punish or discriminate but simply want to promote marriage. It's an argument that rings as hollow in 2008 as it did in 1968.

My commentary:

In adoption, the lines are still defined. The state of Louisiana still doesn't want to acknowledge the rights of adoptees and their families. We are still clearly defined as not having equal rights under the law in Louisiana. Adoptees are not recognized as being legitimate even though both sets of parents acknowledge them. In doing this with their laws, they are denying the humanity of these children. In this, maintaining discrimination is the law of Louisiana

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Every day I get more and more disgusted about the adoption laws of our country. This is just like a case I read where the judge said it was in the child's best interest to stay with the adoptive parents because that way he wouldn't have to carry the stigma of an illegitimate child.

I find it horrible that society must always find someone to discriminate against. For some reason, it's impossible for people to comprehend that all people are simply that - people.