Summarized by Kent Larsen
ACLU Sues Utah Over Adoption Ban
Associated Press 1Dec99 N6
By Hannah Wolfson: Associated Press Writer
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The ACLU has joined a legal battle against a ban
in Utah prohibiting unmarried couples from adopting children. The ACLU
says that the ban violates the state constitution and is "grounded in
irrational fear and prejudice toward same-sex couples." The lawsuit
filed Tuesday is on behalf of two gay couples that wish to adopt.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of another lawsuit by Utah Children, an
advocacy group, which sued the state Division of Child and Family
Services saying that the rule against adoption by unmarried parents goes
against the best interest of children and contradicts attempts to expand
the pool of adoptive parents. But the division says that the rule is
meant to protect children from potential abuse.
Opponents of the rule, an administrative policy with the effect of law,
point out that it would restrict anyone boarding unrelated adults, such
as LDS missionaries, as well as gays and unmarried couples. The
reference to LDS missionaries is aimed at the state's majority LDS
population. The LDS Church has actively fought allowing gay couples to
marry in California, Hawaii and Alaska.
The rule requires that all adults in an adoptive home be related by
blood, adoption or marriage. A similar rule covers foster parents.
However, the rule does allow single adults living alone to adopt.
ACLU attorney Stephen Clark says that the rule limits adoptions
unnecessarily, "For some reason, folks here are saying we should let the
politicians adopt these broad exclusions instead of letting the experts
decide on a case-by-case basis," said Clark. The Utah governor's office
reported in September that there were 2,308 children in state care but
only 1,014 families ready to take them.
The division's director, Scott Clark, himselve the adoptive father of
19, says that the restriction is reasonable. "We don't place children
with people who have no job, terminal illnesses, a history of neglect,
or who don't have a bed. It's just not a good idea to have unrelated
strange adults have access to children."
Some other states have adopted similar policies, but only Florida bars
gay couples from adopting under the law. New Hampshire repealed its ban
on gay adoptions earlier this year and California eliminated a rule
discouraging unmarried couples from adopting. And in Arkansas, a similar
administrative rule is being challenged in court.