A judge has ruled that the Missouri Department of Social Services improperly denied a woman’s application to become a foster parent because she is a lesbian.

The denial had been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, who work to extend rights to segments of the population that have traditionally been denied them, acting on behalf of Lisa Johnston. Jackson County Circuit Judge Sandra C. Midkiff upheld the challenge after hearing testimony in November.

“Ms. Johnston’s sexual orientation should not be the endpoint of the Agency’s consideration of her application for a foster care license,” Ms Midkiff wrote in her 15-page ruling.

Ms Johnston, 40, of Kansas City, had filed the application to become a foster parent in 2003. She said she hoped to foster a child with her partner, Dawn Roginski. She had already begun training when her application was turned down under what the ACLU said was an unwritten policy against gays and lesbians becoming foster parents.

“We’re really relieved that the court has recognized that banning lesbian and gay people from being foster parents is bad for Missouri’s foster children,” She said in an ACLU release announcing the judge’s decision. “We were saddened when we found out that our loving each other was the only reason the state had for denying us the opportunity to give a child a home.”

In the case, Social Services had argued that a child raised by a same-sex couple might face social disapproval, a position that Ms Midkiff’s ruling said “is unsupported by competent and substantial evidence, and is arbitrary and capricious.”

Ms Johnston holds a degree in human and family development from the University of Kansas, with an emphasis on child development.

The judge ordered the agency to resume training for the couple and to grant Ms Johnston’s license if she passes.

© 2005 GayWired.com, All Rights Reserved