Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Victory in Virginia: After State Officials Blocked Her from Adopting Because She Is a Lesbian, Linda Kaufman Took on the System-And Won. (Behind the Headlines)

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Victory in Virginia: After State Officials Blocked Her from Adopting Because She Is a Lesbian, Linda Kaufman Took on the System-And Won. (Behind the Headlines)

Article excerpt

Ten years ago Linda Kaufman adopted a 5-year-old boy who lived in the District of Columbia. But when Kaufman, an Episcopal priest who works with the Department of Mental Health in Washington, D.C., decided in 1999 to adopt a second child, the state of Virginia denied her application solely on the grounds that she is a lesbian. Now, thanks to an August 14 settlement in the lawsuit she filed against the state, Kaufman--who lives in Arlington, Va., with her partner, Lianne Rozell, and their now-15-year-old son--can adopt another child. Virginia officials also agreed to stop considering sexual orientation in adoption proceedings. The advocate spoke to Kaufman about the victory.

What sparked your lawsuit?

We put in an application [for adoption] in 1999. We were assigned a social worker who said that based on what her pastor said, we would go to hell because we were homosexuals. Obviously, we weren't going to get her recommendation. I decided that I wasn't going to roll over. I've done work with the Washington, D.C., homeless, and I could see how great the needs were for adopting kids. The state wasn't just hurting me, it was hurting these kids who needed a home.

As an Episcopal priest, you must have been shocked by the social worker's words.

I look at the Bible as inclusive and not proscriptive. I love God and scripture, and if you have studied it for as long as I have, you will find that it is welcoming and affirming, not exclusionary.

You lived in Virginia in 1992, when you adopted your son. Did you encounter any resistance then?

None whatsoever.

What do you think the difference was between then and when you applied to adopt a second child in 1999?

How do I say this without getting in trouble with my lawyer? In 1992 [Gov. L. Douglas] Wilder was in office--a fairly liberal Democrat. …

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