California adoption agency asks for dismissal of lesbian couple's lawsuit

BY Advocate.com Editors

June 11 2003 11:00 PM ET

An adoption agency has asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it by a lesbian couple who allege they were discriminated against for being a "nonnuclear" family. Officials of the Olive Crest Family Care and Adoption Agency, based in Santa Ana, Calif., said Tuesday that the discrimination never occurred because the women withdrew from the process voluntarily. The adoption agency was sued May 1 by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Shannon Rose and Jane Wesley Brooks of San Diego. The couple allege that they were dropped unfairly from an adoption certification program because Olive Crest's policy gives preferential treatment to nuclear families, defined by the agency as legally married couples. Their lawsuit claims that Rose and Brooks began the adoption certification process last summer after being told that their sexual orientation wouldn't come into play. Several months later, they say, a social worker told them they had been dropped from the program due to a new policy stating that the agency "prefers to place children in nuclear families."

Martha Matthews, an ACLU attorney representing Rose and Brooks, argued that private agencies performing functions such as adoptions on behalf of the state are subject to the same constitutional restrictions against discrimination to which the state must adhere. But in motions filed Tuesday, agency attorneys said that even if the couple had been rejected, the adoption agency wouldn't have done anything wrong. "A policy which simply favors the placement of children with men and women
who are in legally recognized and sanctified marriages is both fair and reasonable," argued the motion filed in U.S. district court in Santa Ana. "The stability and security of traditional marriage for the benefit of children is reasonably preferred over unsanctioned and legally unrecognized cohabitants,
acquaintances, or other companions."

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