The Arkansas Supreme Court last week
heard arguments in an appeal of a lower court's ruling that found the
state's ban on gay adoption to be unconstitutional.
Act 1, which was approved by 57% of
voters in 2008, 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
Pulaski County Circuit Judge
Christopher C. Piazza struck down the law in April of last year.
“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.
In its brief, the American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU) argued that the law hurts children by
irrationally excluding gay and lesbian couples from adopting.
“This case raises a narrow question
regarding what the Circuit Court found to be an 'unreasonably broad'
law … : whether the State may penalize private consensual,
non-commercial acts of sexual intimacy between unmarried adults in
the home they have created together by forbidding such persons,
because of their acts of intimacy in their home, from even applying
to be considered by the State, through its rigorous screening
process, as potential adoptive or foster parents.”
The ACLU also countered arguments that
children fare better when raised in a setting that includes a husband
and a wife.
“With respect to Intervenors'
assertion that it is rational to believe that children do best with a
married mom and dad, it is irrational to conclude that Act 1 does
anything to promote children being raised in such households. Act 1
does not bar single people, who constitute 17% of the foster and
adoptive placements in the State, from applying. Nor does Arkansas
law create a preference for married applicants.”
The Little Rock-based group that
sponsored the state's ban on gay marriage, the Family Council Action
Committee (FCAC), also put Act 1 on the ballot.
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