The Best Interest of Children:
Babets v. Johnston

Don Babets and David Jean with attorneys Kevin Cathcart and Tony Doniger

Don Babets and David Jean (back) with
GLAD attorney and Executive Director Kevin Cathcart (r) and co-counsel Tony Doniger
Photo by Ellen Shub

Don Babets and David Jean in 1985 thought they were finally on their way to having the family they wanted. Two brothers—a toddler and a baby—came to live with them through the state’s foster care system. But soon after the placement The Boston Globe published an article about “community opposition” to their growing family, and the Department of Social Services (DSS) removed the boys from their home. Within weeks DSS announced a new policy that all but banned gays and lesbians from becoming foster parents.

Don and Dave’s struggle to become parents led to one of GLAD’s early landmark cases, Babets v. Johnston, which reaffirmed that gays and lesbians have an equal right to provide homes for children in need. In the four years the case took to litigate and resolve it confirmed GLAD’s role as a steadfast advocate for equality. Along the way, it also implicated Massachusetts Governor and Presidential hopeful Michael Dukakis and his administration in conspiring against gay and lesbian parents.

The children were never returned to Don and Dave, but in 1990 as a result of the case DSS returned to a “best interests of the child” standard for foster care rather than focusing on the sexual orientation of the parents.

Protesting Governor Dukakis and the anti-gay foster parenting policy

Protesting Governor Dukakis and his administration's anti-gay foster parenting policy. Photo by Ellen Shub.

Foster Equality

The gay and lesbian community organized a "Foster Equality" campaign


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The Best Interest of Children: Babets v. Johnston



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