Lesbian Couple Uses Supreme Court Ruling To Fight Adoption Ban

Mon. July 7, 2003 12:00 AM by 365gay.com

Salt Lake City, Utah - A Salt Lake lesbian couple plans to challenge the state's ban on cohabitating couples from adopting each other's children using the Supreme Court's ruling that ensures gays and lesbians Due Process and Equal Protection under the Constitution.

Sonja Kaufman and Kari Fuller are in a committed relationship. Together with Fuller's two children they make a family of four. Fuller, 38, is a stay home mom, taking care of both kids, 7-month-old Karson and 6-year-old Angus.

Kaufman adopted Angus, but in 2000 Utah changed the law and banned adoption by couples who are not married . It means that if something happened to Fuller the family would be split up and Karson would be put up for adoption to someone else. If the couple were to break up Fuller could seek visitation rights for Angus, but not Karson.

"The law doesn't make sense to me," says Kaufman, 46. "They find me fit to parent one child and then say I can't parent the other one... there's that little bit of anxiety, knowing that, in a way, you're living on the edge."

The couple has been together for ten years.

"I worry what would happen if something happened to me," Fuller says. "I have family members who think it might be the right thing for them to do to get custody of my children. That's scary. I'm a little nervous."

The women say they aren't LGBT rights activists but they want what is fair. They believe the Supreme Court ruling on June 26, (story) makes the Utah adoption ban illegal and are ready to go to court.

The Utah adoption ban prohibits co-habiting adults, heterosexual or same-sex, from adopting children in state foster care or their partner's children.

Rep. Jackie Biskupski, the only openly gay member of the Legislature, says the ban and Utah's sodomy law are carefully written to make it appear they do not target gays, but the effect is the same.

"The laws are connected," the Salt Lake City Democrat says. "Clearly the laws are discriminatory."

Second-parent adoptions have been sanctioned by the highest courts of four states: Vermont, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey. Courts in 21 other states have allowed second-parent adoptions for same-sex couples. Two other states, Florida and Mississippi, block gay couples from adopting. Arkansas restricts gays and lesbians from being foster parents.

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This article originally appeared on 365gay.com. Republished with permission.