Last edited: December 05, 2004

Adoption Law Faces Legal Tests

Salt Lake Tribune, March 17, 2000
P. O. Box 867, Salt Lake City, UT 84110
Fax: 801-257-8950

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 state’s 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 lawsuit.

The governor recognizes the potential for a lawsuit, as with any new legislation, but he is "confident that it’s good legislation and is prepared that we may face legal challenges," his spokeswoman, Vicki Varela, said Thursday.

Leavitt’s action "shows that the board’s 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 state’s 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 family.

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.

[Home] [News] [Utah]