Arkansas strikes down gay adoption ban

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On April 7 Arkansas’ Supreme Court unanimously struck down a law passed by over 57 percent of voters, banning cohabiting adults—most notably cohabiting homosexual adults—from becoming foster parents. The state’s highest court ruled that fundamental right of privacy of the individuals in consideration were at stake — rights implicitly stated in the Arkansas Constitution — and because of this constitutional claim, the case cannot be appealed further.

Act 1, which was passed in 2008 in the same month as California’s Proposition 8, stated that “a minor may not be adopted or placed in a foster home if the individual seeking to adopt or to serve as a foster parent is cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of a marriage which is valid under the constitution and laws of this state.” Shortly after the law was passed, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) the Arkansas ACLU began motions to challenge the ruling.

About the recent case, Cole v. Arkansas Department of Human Services, Associate Justice Robert L. Brown had to say “[B]ecause Act 1 exacts a categorical ban against all cohabiting couples engaged in sexual conduct, we hold that it is not narrowly tailored or the least restrictive means available to serve the State’s compelling interest of protecting the best interest of the child.”

Arkansas is not the only state that limited the rights of foster parents, specifically homosexual ones. Utah continues to ban unmarried straight or gay couples from adopting or fostering children, while Mississippi bans gay couples, but not single gays, from adopting. Florida was the only state that had a law that completely banned any sort of gay adoption, but the law was over turned by a Miami Dade County Circuit Court, and now allows for case-by-case decisions on adoption.

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