CBNNews.com - A case before West Virginia's Supreme Court of Appeals has the potential to set precedent for the right of same-sex couples in the state to adopt.
Arguments began, Wednesday, in a lesbian couple's appeal to adopt a 15-month-old child temporarily placed under their foster care after her biological parents' custody rights were terminated.
Currently, the state only allows married couples or single individuals to adopt, prompting a Fayette County circuit judge to order the child be placed with heterosexual parents.
The same-sex couple appealed the decision, claiming that their desire to adopt is more important than the Virginia Department of Health and Human Resource's effort to adhere to state law.
Alliance Defense Fund attorney Byron Babione disagrees. The Christian legal group submitted a friend-of-the-court brief along with the Family Policy Council of West Virginia asking the court to place the child with a married couple.
"In this case, there are qualified married couples willing to adopt this child, so there is no reason whatsoever to ignore the law and place this child in a non-married household," Babione explained.
Family law expert Lynn Kohm said most adoption courts nationwide are charged simply with finding the child's best interests, but have few guidelines beyond that general directive.
"There are very few states that have adopted the preference of mother-father married to each other--Arizona is one--but very few states have adopted the preference because of the classic--the law is always behind the culture," she said.
In the appeal, attorneys for the lesbian couple say the Fayette County judge is setting a "dangerous precedent" for discriminatory treatment of nontraditional families.
Kohm says the bulk of social science research shows children thrive when placed with a mom and a dad and West Virginia law acknowledges this.
An adverse decision in this case could also undermine the state's Defense of Marriage Act which defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman.
Sources: CBN News, Alliance Defense Fund