The Arkansas Supreme Court has upheld a lower court's ruling that found the state's ban on gay adoption to be unconstitutional.

In a decision released Thursday, the court said the law burdens the privacy of unmarried couples who live together, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

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 people.

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 it.”