UPDATE: Same sex couples challenge Nebraska foster care rule - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

UPDATE: Same sex couples challenge Nebraska foster care rule

Posted: Updated:

By: Kayla Bremer
kbremer@klkntv.com

Three same–sex couples who want to be foster parents filed a lawsuit against state officials Tuesday morning.

The lawsuit challenges an 18–year–old policy barring gay and lesbian couples from serving as foster parents or adopting children from the foster system.

Joel Busch and Todd Vesely bought their home with extra bedrooms with a plan to foster and adopt children.  They hoped to provide a home for sibling groups who are in the state's custody.

"We applied to become foster parents five years ago,"Busch said.  "We passed the state's background checks and inspections and were told we'd make good foster parents but we were turned away because we're a gay couple."

They are one of the three couples filing a lawsuit against Governor Dave Heineman, Kerry Winterer and Thomas Pristow.  They're fighting a policy that disqualifies gay and lesbian couples from serving as foster parents.

"This policy demeans gay people by branding them as unfit parents," Attorney Leslie Cooper said.  "The ones who bare the consequences of this baseless policy are our state's most vulnerable children."

The policy was issued in 1995 and prohibits the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services from issuing foster home licenses to or placing children with homosexuals.

The lawsuit argues that the rule discriminates against would–be foster parents based on their sexual orientation.

"The real tragedy of Nebraska's policy is a child will go without a good home because loving families are being turned away," Lisa Blakey said.

Currently, nearly 4,000 children in Nebraska are in out–of–home care.

We asked for comment from Governor Heineman which was referred to the Attorney General's Office.  They say, "Our office is tasked with defending the state and we will do so vigorously."

The American Civil Liberties Union says similar restrictions were struck down by courts in Arkansas, Florida and Missouri.  They're confident Nebraska will do the same after hearing the evidence.

Posted By:  KLKN Newsroom
8@klkntv.com

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Three same-sex couples are challenging a Nebraska policy that prevents them from serving as foster parents. 

A lawsuit filed Tuesday by the state and national American Civil Liberties Union argues that the rule discriminates against would-be foster parents based on their sexual orientation. The administrative policy was enacted in 1995 by what was then the Nebraska Department of Social Services. 

The lawsuit argues that the rule excludes couples who are willing to become foster parents. Nebraska had more than 3,800 children who were in out-of-home care in April. The ACLU says similar restrictions have been struck down by courts in Arkansas, Florida and Missouri. 

The Department of Health and Human Services referred questions to the Nebraska Attorney General's office. A spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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