A gay couple in California filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Adoption.com, the largest adoption-related Internet business in the United States, charging the company with discrimination against same-sex couples who want to become parents. The complaint, filed in San Francisco superior court, alleges that Adoption.com unlawfully excluded the couple from using its services--one of which allows prospective adoptive parents, for a fee, to post personal information about themselves for birth mothers who are seeking adoptive parents--because they are gay. California law prohibits businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.
The plaintiffs in this suit, Michael and Richard Butler, are registered domestic partners in California and have been together for eight years. They are licensed and approved as potential adoptive parents by the state of California. They are represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the law firm of Orrick, Herrington, and Sutcliffe LLP. "The actions of Adoption.com offend not only California law but basic principles of rationality, fairness, and equality," said Shannon Minter, legal director for NCLR. "Sexual orientation is irrelevant in determining whether one is a fit and proper parent."
In a press statement, cocounsel Neel Chatterjee, a partner at Orrick, added, "We seek to end the policy of excluding members of the gay and lesbian community from equal access to Adoption.com's services. These discriminatory practices do not serve the interests of children or biological parents looking for suitable adoptive parents in California. The goal of this lawsuit is to open up the valuable services provided on the Adoption.com Web site to all individuals." There was no comment from Adoption.com.