Photo by Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press
Photo by Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press

Maricopa County is reversing a five-year policy rooted in opposition to adoptions by same-sex couples.

Parents in so-called uncontested adoptions are entitled to free legal representation, but Maricopa County has for years used an outside legal firm to handle those services.

The Arizona Republic reports County Attorney Allister Adel said Thursday that she is bringing that legal work back to her office.

The move is an about-face from the practice former County Attorney Bill Montgomery instituted in 2015, in the wake of a state law that legalized gay marriage. Montgomery contended that gay parents were not eligible for the free legal services his office, by state statute, was required to provide.

But after pushback from the ACLU of Arizona, and after Gov. Doug Ducey vetoed a bill that would have allowed county attorneys to deny services to adoptive couples, Montgomery opted to move adoption work involving uncontested adoptions to outside firms.

While adoptive parents still got the free service, gay-rights activists said the move made it harder for anyone to get connected to the proper attorneys.

Adel said the change will save the county’s general fund around $750,000 a year.