The Arkansas Supreme Court will hear an appeal of a lower court's ruling that found the state's ban on gay adoption to be unconstitutional.

Last April, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Christopher C. Piazza struck down the law that bans an unmarried person who lives with a partner from serving as an adoptive or foster parent. Because the state banned gay marriage in 2004, the law disproportionately affects gay people.

Act 1 was approved by 57% of voters in 2008.

“The Act significantly burdens non-marital relationships and acts of sexual intimacy between adults because it forces them to choose between becoming a parent and having any meaningful type of intimate relationship outside of marriage,” Piazza wrote in his two-page ruling. “This infringes upon the fundamental right to privacy guaranteed to all citizens of Arkansas.”

“It is especially troubling that one politically unpopular group has been specifically targeted for exclusion by the Act,” he added.

The state appealed the decision, arguing that the law protects children from abuse and neglect. Children, the state said, fare better when raised in a setting that includes a wife and a husband.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed its legal challenge on behalf of a lesbian couple barred from adopting a special needs child, a grandmother who could not adopt her own grandchild and several married heterosexual couples who were banned by the law from designating certain friends or relatives from adopting their children if they die or become incapacitated.

The Family Council Action Committee (FCAC) put the issue on the ballot. The Little Rock-based organization also sponsored the state's gay marriage ban four years earlier.

The group freely acknowledged its main objective with the law was to bar gay men and lesbians from serving as foster parents and adopting.

“[Act 1] is about two things,” Jerry Cox, the group's executive director, said in 2008. “It's about child welfare, first of all. Secondly, it is to blunt a homosexual agenda that's at work in other states and that will be at work in Arkansas unless we are proactive about doing something about it.”

The state supreme court will take up the case on March 17.