First, it’s “gay” same-sex marriage.

Then, two “gay” same-sex people can legally adopt children.

Now, the traditional family — an institution that’s a bedrock of human civilization across all cultures and all times — is corroded even further by a probate judge in Manhattan.

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In the first ruling of its kind, a Manhattan surrogate court judge Rita Mella ruled that an unmarried and unromantically-involved couple who are “just friends” can become legal parents of an adopted little girl.

One of the two friends, the male, has his own “domestic partner”; the other friend, the female, has a “housemate” — whatever those two terms mean.

Rita MellaRita Mella

Dareh Gregorian reports for the New York Daily News, Jan. 3, 2014, that the two unromantically-involved pals, identified only as LEL and KAL, met in 2000 and have been close friends since, according to court papers.

Several years ago, KAL decided she wanted to become a mom, and LEL offered to be her sperm donor. But when she couldn’t get pregnant, they decided to instead adopt a child together.

In 2011, KAL adopted a child, “G,” from Ethiopia. KAL and LEL traveled to Africa together to bring the baby home, but because they weren’t married, only KAL was able to adopt.

When they returned to the U.S., the friends petitioned Manhattan Surrogate’s Court to have LEL named as a second legal parent, even though they don’t live together and are not romantically involved.

In a landmark ruling, Judge Rita Mella did just so.

Mella wrote in a decision from last month:

“From the moment they met G,, more than two years ago now, KAL and LEL have functioned as her parents. G. calls KAL ‘Mommy’ and LEL ‘Daddy,’” and “although they live in separate households,” they “have created a nurturing family environment for G., including a well-thought-out, discussed and fluid method of sharing parenting responsibilities between their homes.” G splits time at LEL’s house in Brooklyn and KAL’s apartment in Manhattan, and they “also spend much time together as a family,” even travelling together to visit each other’s relatives. G, “a good-natured toddler and quick to laugh,” transitions “easily and smoothly between her two homes” and has “good relationships withLEL’s domestic partner and KAL’s housemate.”

LEL argued that making him a legal second parent was in G.’s best interests, and would provide her with better health care and school options, and a more secure future.

Mella agreed, and used a 2010 state statute allowing “intimate partners” to adopt as a basis for allowing the couple’s the adoption to proceed, noting that the phrase can mean a close, long-term relationship.

She also cited the findings of the social worker who observed the family in action, and determined that “even though their relationship is not based on what many consider a traditional family, they exhibit a love and respect for one another and clearly cherish the family they have created.”

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A top matrimonial lawyer not involved in the case, Bernard Clair, said the ruling “expands the boundaries of adoption rights.”

Rita Mella is a judge — her formal title is “surrogate” — in New York County’s (Manhattan) Surrogate’s Court. The website of the Surrogate’s Court describes it as “Serving the estates of individuals who were domiciled in New York County (Manhattan) at the time of their death.”

In other words, a court that deals with estates and probates has now set a precedent for just about anyone to legally adopt children in the United States.

Rita Mella is a 1991 graduate of  City University of New York (CUNY) Law School. First elected to New York City Civil Court in 2006, she was elected to New York County’s Surrogate’s Court and sworn in a year ago on Dec. 6, 2012.

She is — no surprise — a Democrat.

To file a complaint against Judge Rita Mella, go here.


Dr. Eowyn is the Editor of Fellowship of the Minds.