ACLU sues Arkansas over adoption law

One of the less-discussed anti-gay ballot initiatives that passed in November was an Arkansas measure that bars unmarried couples from adopting or foster-parenting. Now the ACLU has filed a suit that says the law is not in the best interest of children — which makes sense, because at a time when there are 3,700 children in foster care and only 1,000 foster homes, the state is further limiting the number of potential caregivers.

“Act 1 violates the state’s legal duty to place the best interest of children above all else,” Marie-Bernarde Miller, a Little Rock attorney in the lawsuit, told the Associated Press.
The group filed the suit on behalf of 29 adults and children from more than a dozen families. The families claim the act’s language was confusing and voters were therefore misled.
The Arkansas Family Council, a group that campaigned heavily for the ban, admitted to targeting gay couples but said it will affect both gay and straight people.

To say that they’re doing this on behalf of kids is just ridiculous. Laws like these are opposed by nearly every child welfare organization in the country. And don’t you love that twisted line of argument? “We discriminate against gay people and unmarried straight people, so it’s not actually discriminatory.” WTF.
There’s some minor comfort in the fact that the ban doesn’t affect adoptions approved prior to November 4. I’m not sure about foster-care situations, though.

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9 Comments

  1. zp27
    Posted January 5, 2009 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Blech, I remember being really pissed off about this. Best Interests of the child should always be first. ALWAYS. I’m glad that we have family values groups keeping children in foster care, because that churns out any number of well-adjusted children every year. How lame.

  2. jstein
    Posted January 5, 2009 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    My understanding is that gay foster families are not going to be given any more kids, which is really bothersome.
    There’s a huge overflow of kids who need to be adopted, and that’s only going to get worse as the recession deepens over the last 12-18 months.
    The state of Arkansas (and every other state) should be increasing subsidies for families willing to adopt kids.

  3. flioba
    Posted January 5, 2009 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Thank goodness, I’ve been waiting for them to file a suit. I wrote this semester’s final paper about this bullshit law, and it pisses me off without end.
    The worst part is that it not just acts against the interests of foster children in general, but worsens the situation of those who are most disadvantaged in the first place. Gay and unmarried couples are aware that their chances at adopting a child are worse, and they are more willing to adopt those children who are hard to place (children above the age of eight, disabled children, children of color). So now, these kids have even less of a chance of finding a loving family before they’re kicked out of the foster care system :-(
    Honestly, I can’t see how this law can’t be seen as unconstitutional, it has no rational basis whatsoever.

  4. dykelawyer
    Posted January 5, 2009 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    I am optimistic about this suit – thanks for posting on it.
    And what’s with the eHarmony ads up in here?? I know the company has now agreed in a legal settlement to set up a dating site for us queers, but they’re keeping it separate from their squeaky-clean hetero site. Yuck.

  5. TheWhiteRaven
    Posted January 5, 2009 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    I too was a little disappointed to see an eHarmony ad. What gives? Sure, some of us are interested in dating, but I for one would never use a website that forces heterosexuality.

  6. TheWhiteRaven
    Posted January 5, 2009 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    I too was a little disappointed to see an eHarmony ad. What gives? Sure, some of us are interested in dating, but I for one would never use a website that forces heterosexuality.

  7. inezcat
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    I live in Little Rock; yes, it does affect foster situations. This was totally aimed at gay people in Arkansas. I might have heard about single people a couple of times during the whole campaign. The gay-bashing was really, really ugly.

  8. Danyell
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    I, too, was surprised that no one really spoke much about this. No offense, but I think it’s way more serious than gay marriage because these are children who will have more and more problems the longer they have to get shuffled around in the system. If there is a family, be they gay, straight, married or not, or single parent who wants to love and care for a child that no one else wants, I say LET THEM BE TOGETHER!!
    I mean, what the hell kind of “righteous” law wants to deny kids love and a healthy home?? Yet these are the same people that are anti-abortion and want to tell you have the kid and put her/him up for adoption. Oh sure, put your kid up for adoption so that s/he’ll just stay there! The older a kid gets, the harder s/he is to place, as most people want babies and young children.
    This law shows the worst of the worst when it comes to bigotry. Seriously, some people need to grow up. I hope the suit goes well.

  9. dirtypinkskirt
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    No offense, but I think it’s way more serious than gay marriage because these are children who will have more and more problems the longer they have to get shuffled around in the system. If there is a family, be they gay, straight, married or not, or single parent who wants to love and care for a child that no one else wants, I say LET THEM BE TOGETHER!!
    Not to mention there’s a disproportionate number of queer youth in foster care, who would really benefit from any lovely home of course – but having amazing queer parents wouldn’t be a bad fit. But I agree – I’m really frustrated that same-sex marriage has been getting so much attention, versus this which gets very little attention and hardly anyone is talking about. Which is why I really appreciate this blog entry.. THANK YOU.
    I also hope the suit goes well. The judge presiding was the same one that threw out a gay foster parent ban in 2006, so I’m thinking it will go well.

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