Kutil v. Blake

Case Summary

In November 2008, the Circuit Court of Fayette County ordered that a one-year-old child be removed from the only home she had known so that she could be placed in a “traditional home” with a mother and father. The West Virginia Supreme Court prevented that order from taking effect (also in November 2008) and set the case for hearing on March 11, 2009. We filed our amicus brief on February 19. The Court unanimously ruled on June 5 that the child should remain with the foster parents.

Context

This case is an example of a thriving child potentially being taken from her loving LGBT home. Lambda Legal strives to ensure that the bedrock principle of family law — that the best interests of the child is paramount — has no LGBT or HIV exception. This case also illustrates a familiar scenario of LGBT parents taking in children with special needs and providing them with loving homes in which those children thrive.

Lambda Legal's Impact

Fair treatment of LGBT parents not only serves the goal of equality but also promotes the welfare of children by ensuring that decisions about their care are not based on the sexual orientation of their parents. Here, the West Virginia Supreme Court made clear that a trial judge should apply the best interest of the child standard to all foster parents and not invent any rule that would break parent-child bonds unnecessarily.

History

  • November 2008 Circuit Court of Fayette County orders that a one-year-old child be removed from the only family she has ever known, in order to be placed in a “traditional home” with a mother and father.
  • November 2008 West Virginia Supreme Court prevents order from taking effect and sets the case for a March hearing.
  • February 2009 Lambda Legal files amicus brief.
  • June 2009 Victory! Court unanimously rules that the child should remain with her foster parents.

Case Information

Status: Closed
Outcome: Victory

Attorneys

Lambda Legal:
Gregory R. Nevins

Cooperating Attorneys:
Stephen G. Skinner of Skinner Law Firm in West Virginia