Lambda Legal Applauds West Virginia Court Order Restoring Custody of Foster Child to Lesbian Mothers

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"The West Virginia high court has ruled in the best interests of this child. We applaud them for rejecting the prejudice that would have removed her from the only home she ever knew."
June 8, 2009

(Charleston, WV, June 8, 2009) — The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia ruled Friday that a foster child should be returned to her lesbian foster parents, Kathryn Kutil and Cheryl Hess, reversing an antigay lower court ruling that sought to remove the child on the basis that her placement was not with a “traditional family.” Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief representing several foster care groups.


“The West Virginia high court has done the right thing in ruling in the best interests of this child. We applaud them for rejecting the prejudice that would have removed her from the only home she ever knew,” said Greg Nevins, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office in Atlanta. “Children in West Virginia need parents to love and care for them and that’s what the state should want, too.”


Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the court on February 19, 2009, on behalf of Foster Children Alumni Association, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of the Eastern Panhandle, COLAGE (Children of Lesbian and Gays Everywhere) and Fairness West Virginia to urge the reversal of a trial court order removing the then one-year-old girl from the home of Kathryn Kutil and Cheryl Hess. The removal was ordered after the couple indicated that they wished to adopt the child. The trial judge accepted the view of the guardian ad litem (GAL) that the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) should only pursue an adoption placement for the child in a “traditional family,” consisting of both a mother and a father. The GAL also sought a statewide injunction barring foster children from being placed in gay homes. Friday’s ruling reverses this lower court finding, allows the child to remain with her foster parents, and permits the possibility that this home where the child has thrived will eventually be the adoption placement for the child.


The case is Kutil v. Blake.


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Erin Baer 212-809-8585 ext 267; Email: ebaer@lambdalegal.org

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