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New York state's highest court ruled Thursday than an unmarried man can adopt his girlfriend's son, and that a lesbian can adopt the daughter of her companion. "This is an acknowledgement of modern day living," says TIME's Jill Smolowe. "Couples don't always have a marriage license for whatever reason, but that doesn't mean they are not a family. Politicians talk a lot about the importance of stability for children, and this ruling actually backs up that idea. This is great for the kids. And it's about time." Judge Judith Kaye, chief of the Court of Appeals, wrote in the majority (4-3) opinion that ruling such adoptions improper "would mean that the thousands of New York children actually being raised in homes headed by two unmarried persons could have only one legal parent, not the two who want them." The dissenting opinion, written by Judge Joseph Bellacosa, simply said the court had overstepped the "proper exercise of its authority."