Arkansas Supreme Court strikes down law barring same sex couples from adopting
Supporters of an Arkansas law that prevented unmarried same sex and straight couples from serving as adoptive or foster parents may seek a constitutional amendment to reinstate it after the state’s Supreme Court ruled the ban was unconstitutional.
The Court ruled Thursday that Act One, the Arkansas Adoption and Foster Care Act, was unconstitutional because it “burdens the privacy rights of ‘opposite sex and same sex individuals’ who engage in private, consensual sexual conduct in the bedroom by foreclosing their eligibility to foster or adopt children.”
“We hold that a fundamental right to privacy is at issue in this case and that, under the Arkansas Constitution, sexual cohabitors have the right to engage in private, consensual, noncommercial intimacy in the privacy of their homes,” Justice Robert L. Brown wrote in the court’s ruling. “We further hold that this right is jeopardized by Act One which precludes all sexual cohabitors, without exception, from eligibility for parenthood, whether by means of adoption or foster care.”
The law banned all same sex couples from adopting or fostering children because they can’t legally marry in Arkansas, but does not prevent single people who live alone from adopting or fostering children.
It was approved by voters in a 2008 statewide ballot initiative after the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned a Human Services Department policy preventing same sex couples from serving as foster parents.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, who brought the suit on behalf of a group of families, said Act One serves no purpose other than to exclude qualified foster and adoptive applicants, with a particular unfounded and unlawful prejudice against same-sex couples.
The law was defended in court by the Alliance Defense Fund, an group of Christian lawyers.
Family Council Action Committee President Jerry Cox said the Supreme Court’s ruling was “a classic example of judicial tyranny.” He added his group might begin a campaign to place the ban on the 2012 ballot as a proposed constitutional amendment.
“I wish it were the end, but if a group is going to try to pass a constitutional amendment, they’re going to have the biggest fight of their life on their hands,” Rita Sklar, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, told The Associated Press.