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NJ judge OKs unmarried adoptions

NEWARK, N.J., Dec. 17 -- Unmarried couples, both gay and straight, can now jointly adopt children in New Jersey. A superior court judge in Newark today has approved the settlement of a class-action lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.

In the past, people in non-marital relationships could adopt kids, but only as individuals. The sole adopter served as the official parent and had all the legal rights and responsibilities. The consent decree puts married couples on the same footing as married people. The settlement only applies to children in the custody of the state Division of Youth and Family Services. Private adoption agencies aren't affected by the decision. The suit began as a result of the efforts of a gay couple in Maywood, who took in a drug-addicted boy and then fought to legally adopt him. The New Jersey Gay and Lesbian Coaliton calls the ruling, which lifts the ban on unmarried people adopting children, 'a victory for families. ' ---

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