Lesbian Couple Uses Supreme Court Ruling to Fight Adoption Ban
July 7, 2003
By 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Salt Lake City, Utah—A Salt Lake
lesbian couple plans to challenge the state’s ban on cohabitating couples
from adopting each other’s children using the Supreme Court’s ruling that
ensures gays and lesbians Due Process and Equal Protection under the
Sonja Kaufman and Kari Fuller are in a committed
relationship. Together with Fuller’s two children they make a family of
four. Fuller, 38, is a stay home mom, taking care of both kids, 7-month-old
Karson and 6-year-old Angus.
Kaufman adopted Angus, but in 2000 Utah changed the law
and banned adoption by couples who are not married . It means that if
something happened to Fuller the family would be split up and Karson would be
put up for adoption to someone else. If the couple were to break up Fuller
could seek visitation rights for Angus, but not Karson.
“The law doesn’t make sense to me,” Kaufman, told
the Salt Lake City Tribune. “They find me fit to parent one child and then
say I can’t parent the other one... there’s that little bit of anxiety,
knowing that, in a way, you’re living on the edge.”
The couple has been together for ten years.
“I worry what would happen if something happened to
me,” Fuller says. “I have family members who think it might be the right
thing for them to do to get custody of my children. That’s scary. I’m a
little nervous,” she told the paper.
The women say they aren’t LGBT rights activists but
they want what is fair. They believe the Supreme Court ruling on June 26,
makes the Utah adoption ban illegal and are ready to go to court.
The Utah adoption ban prohibits co-habiting adults,
heterosexual or same-sex, from adopting children in state foster care or their
Rep. Jackie Biskupski, the only openly gay member of the
Legislature, says the ban and Utah’s sodomy law are carefully written to
make it appear they do not target gays, but the effect is the same.
Second-parent adoptions have been sanctioned by the
highest courts of four states: Vermont, Massachusetts, New York and New
Jersey. Courts in 21 other states have allowed second-parent adoptions for
same-sex couples. Two other states, Florida and Mississippi, block gay couples
from adopting. Arkansas restricts gays and lesbians from being foster parents.
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