(San Francisco, CA, May 21, 2007) — Michael and Rich Butler, a San Jose couple, successfully resolved their landmark discrimination suit on Monday against the operators of the for-profit websites Adoption.com and ParentProfiles.com.
“This case was about ensuring that these businesses stop discriminating against same-sex couples in California by excluding them from offering loving, stable homes to children,” said Michael Butler, one of the plaintiffs in the case. “We have succeeded, and we believe this case sends the message that Californians will not tolerate businesses that discriminate.”
In 2004, the Butlers filed a lawsuit after defendants refused to post their profile online solely because they are a same-sex couple. The defendants’ websites, Adoption.com and ParentProfiles.com, charge fees for posting profiles of potential adoptive parents. Using the websites, birth parents can search those profiles to choose potential adoptive parents for their children. On March 30, 2007, San Francisco federal district court judge Phyllis J. Hamilton issued a decision holding that California law applies to the Defendants and permitting the Butlers to take their case to trial.
According to the settlement, Adoption.com and ParentProfiles.com have agreed to either comply with California antidiscrimination law or cease providing their services to Californians. The agreement, provides that: “no Defendant shall Post Biographical Data of California residents seeking to adopt directed to prospective birth parents unless the Service is made equally available to all California residents qualified to adopt in California.”
“We were forced to sue the defendants because they refused to follow California law, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and marital status,” said Neel Chatterjee, a partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, who jointly represents the Butlers along with the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “This case sends a clear message. Regardless of where you are headquartered, if you want to do business in California, you must comply with California law. The defendants have conceded that they must either comply with California law or stop benefiting financially from California consumers. With this settlement, we have stopped a serious discriminatory practice.”
According to Lynne Jacobs, the Executive Director of Adopt International, “I have been the director of a licensed adoption agency for 24 years. In my experience, many birth mothers choose same-sex couples to adopt their children. I have worked with same-sex adoptive families for years, and have seen first hand that sexual orientation has nothing to do with being good adoptive parents. Discrimination in the adoption industry hurts everyone.”
In addition to its profiling service for parents seeking to adopt, Adoption.com lists profiles of foster children who need adoptive homes. As part of the settlement, the Defendants agreed that the Adoption.com photo listing of children in foster care waiting to be adopted does not discriminate and is available on an equal basis to anyone seeking to adopt.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.