Family and Relationships

Arkansas ballot, Arkansas banning unmarried adoption
Danny Johnston/AP
Arkansas Family Action Committee President Jerry Cox, left, speaks near boxes of
petitions at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., as supporters of a ballot
measure banning the fostering and adoption of children by unmarried people living
together look on Monday, July 7, 2008.

Arkansas Seeks to Ban Adoptions by Unmarried Couples

August 26, 2008 05:27 PM
by Rachel Balik
The measure, which would prevent gay couples from becoming parents, will appear on the Arkansas ballot in November.

Arkansas Fights to Stop Gays from Adopting

Voters in Arkansas will decide this November if unmarried couples will be allowed to adopt children or become foster parents. The Arkansas Family Council Action Committee is behind the initiative. Its president told the Associated Press, “Arkansas needs to affirm the importance of married mothers and fathers.”

The committee is responding to a 2006 ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court that overturned a state law banning gays from adopting children. Although there is already a policy in Arkansas preventing unmarried couples from becoming foster parents, it is under attack from groups that say the policy is discriminatory. In November, voters will decide whether to make the measure a law.

Voters chose to make gay marriage illegal in Arkansas in 2004, so if they decide that unmarried couples cannot adopt, gay couples will be automatically excluded from adopting. An organization called Arkansas Families First is trying to get the measure taken off the ballot, but lawyers say its inclusion is legal.

Choosing to exclude all unmarried couples is one way that the Family Council can specifically avoid targeting gays. Similarly, California doctors who have been told that they can’t deny lesbians artificial inseminations have tried to claim that they were against providing artificial inseminations for all unmarried couples. Now that it’s illegal to discriminate against unmarried couples in California, those doctors may refuse to perform artificial inseminations for anyone. 

Background: Gay couples have history of being good foster parents

More than just the rights of gay couples is at stake. As illustrated by a gay couple in Holland who have served as surrogate parents for more than 100 troubled children, there are many more children who need homes than there are parents willing to adopt them.

Studies show that there is no downside to placing children with same-sex or unmarried couples. Children raised by gay couples are mentally strong and generally happy. In 1999, the American Civil Liberties Union reported that there were 100,000 children who needed homes but in the previous year, there were only 20,000 qualified parents available to adopt. Eliminating more eligible parents would only serve to exacerbate the crisis.

Related Topic: The California Marriage Protection Act

Key Players: Arkansas organizations for, against adoptions by gay couples


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