Last edited: February 14, 2005

Worker who removed foster child from lesbian couple's care sues CPS

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, September 2, 1998
P. O. Box 1870,Fort Worth TX 76101
Fax 817-390-7789

By Rosanna Ruiz, Star-Telegram Staff Writer

DALLAS -- A Child Protective Services caseworker who was demoted after she removed a boy who was placed in the foster care of a lesbian couple filed a lawsuit against the agency and several of its employees yesterday.

During a news conference yesterday, Rebecca Bledsoe said she was demoted from supervisor to caseworker because she removed Devonte Marshall from the custody of lesbian foster parents in Garland last year. Devonte now lives with relatives in Chicago.

"I took this action on an emergency basis," Bledsoe said at the news conference. "I was then threatened that I would be fired, and then I was demoted simply because I made a professional decision which I believed to be in the best interests of a child."

Her actions attracted national attention, and her lawsuit will likely reopen debate about whether homosexuals should be allowed to adopt children or be foster parents. And because of the case, a state legislator says he will introduce legislation that would make it illegal for homosexuals to be foster or adoptive parents.

Bledsoe's attorneys, Roger Evans and Kelly Shackelford, said the lawsuit seeks her reinstatement as supervisor and requires the agency's compliance with Texas' law against homosexual conduct, which is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500. Bledsoe's attorneys say violation of that law, which is rarely enforced, precludes homosexuals from adoption.

"The government has no right to knowingly place a child in a home where they are aware that ongoing criminal sexual conduct is occurring, yet that is what is happening," said Shackelford, who is also chief counsel of the conservative Liberty Legal Institute in Plano.

CPS policy states that sexual orientation is not a consideration when choosing parents, spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner said. She declined to comment about the lawsuit because papers had not been served by late afternoon yesterday.

Meisner said an internal audit completed this year did not substantiate any of Bledsoe's allegations.

Bledsoe said in the lawsuit that she was harassed and eventually demoted for expressing her views and for removing the child.

The lawsuit names several agency employees including James R. Hine, director of Region 3, which includes 19 North Texas counties, and others for what the lawsuit calls "de facto policy" that promotes placement of children with homosexuals.

Rep. Warren Chisum, R- Pampa, said he will introduce a bill that bars homosexuals from being adoptive parents or providing foster care. Florida and New Hampshire already have such laws, Chisum said.

"These children are wards of the state, and they should not be placed in situations that are not good for them," Chisum said.

John Ames, president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, said the group would oppose Chisum's legislation.

"Obviously, we believe that sexual orientation is not an issue," Ames said. "A lot of same-sex couples have children, and their kids are perfectly all right."

Evans and Bledsoe said that there is no shortage of foster or adoptive parents available and that there is no need to place children with gay foster or adoptive parents.

According to information from CPS, there are 349 families available for foster care or adoption in Dallas County. Last year in Dallas County, there were 1,033 children waiting for foster care or adoption.

Rosanna Ruiz, (817) 390- 7155
Send your comments to rruiz@star-

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