April 8, 2011
Arkansas Court Overturns Law Against Gay, Unmarried Couples Adoptions
The Arkansas Supreme Court unanimously ruled against a law that banned both gay and straight unmarried cohabiting couples from adopting children or serving as foster parents. Arkansas voters approved “Act One” in November 2008. Yesterday, the court decided that such an across the board ban violated the right to privacy by forcing couples into a choice between sexual intimacy and parenthood.
“The choice imposed on cohabiting sexual partners, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is dramatic,” the court said in its ruling. “They must chose either to lead a life of private, sexual intimacy with a partner without the opportunity to adopt or foster children or forego sexual cohabitation and, thereby, attain eligibility to adopt or foster.”
The Arkansas-based Family Council Action Committee (FCAC) sponsored Act One and assisted in the defense of the law. FCAC president Jerry Cox called the ruling “anti-child” and “the worst decision ever handed down by the Arkansas Supreme Court.”
“This is a classic example of judicial tyranny,” said Cox. “We have said all along that Act One was about child welfare, and fifty-seven percent of the voters in 2008 agreed. They declared that the State of Arkansas has an obligation to adoptive and foster children to ensure that they are placed in the best possible homes.”
The FCAC argued that Act One was justified because unmarried relationships are less stable, more abusive, more infidelity, lower income levels, and less social support than marriages. The court said that these claims are not true of all cohabiting couples and each of these issues can be addressed when the state screens potential parents.
FCAC was represented by Byron Babione, an Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) attorney. “The court’s decision tragically places more importance on the sexual interests of adults than on protecting children,” Babione said. “The people of Arkansas believe that children deserve the most safe and stable home possible. They cast their ballots to ensure that children wouldn’t be deprived of the best possible family environment and decisively approved Act 1 for that purpose only, but the court struck down the people’s will anyway.”
Public opinion polls suggest that the nation is split on the question of whether gay couples should be allowed to adopt children. A 2006 poll by the Pew Research Center for the Public and the Press found 46 percent of Americans approve of gay couples adopting and 48 percent opposed such adoptions. The vast majority of evangelicals, however, opposed gays adopting. Three-quarters of white evangelicals and 60 percent of African-American Christians opposed such adoptions. Opposition was much lower among Mainline Protestants (44 percent) and Catholics (37 percent).