The Arlington County Circuit Court will hear arguments tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. in a case brought on behalf of a Virginia woman who, because she is a lesbian, has been denied the right to adopt a child from Washington , D.C. Linda Kaufman has already adopted one child, but the Virginia Department of Social Services has refused for several years to approve her for adoption of another.
Kaufman is the director of homeless services for the Downtown DC Business Improvement District and a part-time minister at two DC churches, but she grew up in Loudoun County and makes her home in Arlington . Virginia 's Department of Social Services must approve all adoptions in Virginia , even when the child is from another state.
Lawyers with the Lambda Legal Defense Fund and the ACLU of Virginia filed suit on Kaufman's behalf last fall. Tomorrow, Lambda staff attorney Greg Nevins will be arguing in opposition to the state's motion to dismiss Kaufman's case. The state argues that Kaufman has no case because she did not formally submit an application. Kaufman was prevented from submitting an application when a Washington D.C. child welfare agency said it could not initiate a child placement because Virginia had already stated it would deny Kaufman's application.
"With this motion to dismiss, Virginia is just trying to avoid their judicial day of reckoning over its illegal and discriminatory policy," said Nevins. He added, " Virginia has stated that it will not approve Linda's application because she is a lesbian. Because of that, the social service agency cannot responsibly place a child with her and then be forced to crush a child's hopes of being adopted."
"Everyone but the Virginia Department of Social Services seems to want this adoption to take place," said ACLU of Virginia executive director Kent Willis. "D.C. has more than 1,000 children on an adoption waiting list. D.C. officials and an adoption agency in Virginia have found Ms. Kaufman to be qualified. And Ms. Kaufman wants to do it."
Although the ACLU of Virginia did not prevail in its four-year court battle to allow lesbian mother Sharon Bottoms to regain custody of her son, the Virginia Supreme Court made it clear in that case that there were no legal barriers to gay parents having custody of their children.
"There is nothing in Virginia law--in the code or through court precedent-- that prevents this adoption from taking place," added Willis
Rebecca Glenberg, legal director for the ACLU of Virginia is co-counsel on the case , and Joseph Price of Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn, PLLC is Lambda Legal's cooperating attorney.
Contacts: Lambda: Greg Nevins 404-897-1880 ext. 30 or Jennifer Grissom 212-809-8585 ext. 231 ACLU of Virgina: Kent Willis, Rebecca Glenberg, 804-644-8022