Virginia Loses First Round of Battle to Prevent Lesbian Mother From Adopting
(ATLANTA, Friday, May 3, 2002) - An Arlington County Circuit Court judge today wasted no time in rejecting an attempt by the Virginia Attorney General’s office to end a lawsuit filed by a lesbian mother who wants to adopt a foster child. Arlington resident Linda Kaufman is suing the Commonwealth of Virginia for refusing to allow her to adopt a District of Columbia foster child because Kaufman is a lesbian. Today, Judge Joanne Alper rejected Virginia’s argument that Kaufman’s case should be dismissed because she has not formally submitted an application to adopt a child. Kaufman was prevented from submitting an application when a Washington, D.C. child welfare agency said it could not initiate a child placement because the Virginia Department of Social Services had already stated it would deny Kaufman’s application. Judge Alper called the situation created by Virginia a “Catch-22” and ruled that Kaufman’s case can move forward. “Today is a great day for justice, because the court saw right through the smokescreen Virginia sent up to hide its anti-gay discrimination,” said Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Greg Nevins, who argued the case on behalf of Kaufman. “Everybody knows that Linda Kaufman is a great mother and a wonderful adoptive parent, but no child can be placed with her for adoption until Virginia agrees that it will consider the adoption based on what’s in the best interest of the child, rather than outdated stereotypes,” Nevins added.
Linda Kaufman stated: “I am thrilled with the judge’s decision that my case will move forward. I can only bring a child into my home if there is a real possibility Virginia will approve the adoption, and today we’re a step closer to that happening.”
Kaufman, a Virginia resident, is an ordained Episcopal priest and a dedicated social services professional in Washington, D.C. In 1992, she adopted her son from the D.C. foster care system, and he has thrived under her care. Since 1999, Kaufman has been trying to adopt one or more foster children from Washington, D.C. Rebecca Glenberg of the ACLU of Virginia is co-counsel and Joseph Price of Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn, PLLC is Lambda Legal’s cooperating attorney.
Lambda Legal is the nation’s oldest and largest legal organization dedicated to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, the transgendered, and people with HIV or AIDS. Headquartered in New York, Lambda Legal has regional offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, and will be opening an office in Dallas in June.
Rebecca Glenberg, 804/644-8080
Jennifer Grissom, 212/809-8585 ext. 231