The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit Thursday against a Santa Ana, Calif., adoption agency on behalf of a lesbian couple who say they were illegally prevented from adopting because of their sexual orientation. "Such discrimination by an adoption agency that performs public functions and is closely entwined with state and county agencies...violates plaintiffs's constitutional rights under the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment," claims the lawsuit, filed in federal court against the Olive Crest Family Care and Adoption Agency. The agency has denied the charge. "We are very disappointed that [the plaintiffs] have chosen to take this route," Kelly Crosland, an agency official, told the Los Angeles Times. "As always, our goal is to place each child in an environment that is in the best interests of that child."
According to the lawsuit, Olive Crest receives more than 80% of its $29 million annual budget from federal, state, and county sources. The agency is responsible for the placement, care, and treatment of foster children, including the recruitment, training, and certification of foster and adoptive parents. The plaintiffs, Shannon Rose and Jane Wesley Brooks of San Diego, say they began the certification process in July after being assured that their sexual orientation would not be an issue. "We were upfront about it from day one," said Brooks, 42, a law student who says she and Rose, a doctor, have been in a relationship for 10 years. "Then all of a sudden we get a call saying, 'We're putting together a new policy, and you're not part of it.'"
According to the lawsuit, the policy states that Olive Crest "prefers to place children with nuclear families," that "other applicants will be considered on a case by case basis," and that the agency would refer elsewhere any applicants whose qualifications "do not agree with Olive Crest's values, guiding principles, or treatment philosophy."