Adoption Law Faces Legal Tests
Salt Lake Tribune,
March 17, 2000
P. O. Box 867, Salt Lake City, UT 84110
By Katherine Kapos And Heather May, The Salt Lake Tribune
With his signature on a controversial new law preventing cohabiting adults from
adopting children or becoming foster parents in Utah, Gov. Mike Leavitt likely has moved a
bitter legal battle onto the states agenda.
On Tuesday, Leavitt signed House Bill 103, which prevents placement of children in
homes where unmarried adults are living together in an intimate relationship.
The new law mirrors a rule adopted last summer by the board of trustees of the Division
of Child and Family Services, which almost immediately was hit with a federal civil rights
The governor recognizes the potential for a lawsuit, as with any new legislation, but
he is "confident that its good legislation and is prepared that we may face
legal challenges," his spokeswoman, Vicki Varela, said Thursday.
Leavitts action "shows that the boards values are consistent with
those of the state," said Scott Clark, head of the DCFS board of trustees. "It
may not meet the agendas of adults, but it is in the best interest of children."
The DCFS rule will be modified to be in line with the state law, thus putting any
future legal challenge on the states shoulders, Clark said.
The state law is slightly different than the DCFS administrative rule because it more
clearly targets gay and lesbian partners and requires DCFS case workers to determine if
applicants have a sexual relationship outside of marriage.
After the DCFS board passed its rule, the Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties
Union, a gay couple and a woman filed a lawsuit claiming the rule violates equal
protection guarantees of the Utah and U.S. Constitutions by prohibiting a category of
people to adopt.
Opponents also argue it will deny children the rights and privileges of being part of a
Tapestry of Polygamy, a support group for women who have fled polygamous marriages,
filed a friend of the court brief, saying the ban was appropriate since it would keep
children out of polygamous homes.
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