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Arkansas high court unanimously rejects gay adoption ban

Published: Thursday June 29, 2006

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In a unanimous decision and sweeping decision, the Arkansas Supreme Court today struck down a regulation that banned lesbian and gay people from serving as foster parents.

The decision ends a seven-year legal battle between the state and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Pointing to the findings of a lower court that overturned the ban, the Court criticized the Child Welfare Agency Review Board’s reasons for enacting the regulation, writing, “These facts demonstrate that there is no correlation between the health, welfare, and safety of foster children and the blanket exclusion of any individual who is a homosexual or who resides in a household with a homosexual.”

The court found that there was no validity to the arguments made by opponents of gay adoption, noting that: Children of lesbian and gay parents are just as well-adjusted as children of heterosexual parents; Being raised by gay parents doesn’t increase the risk of psychological, behavioral, academic, gender identity, or any other sort of adjustment problems; Being raised by gay parents doesn’t prevent children from forming healthy relationships with their peers and others; There is no factual basis for saying that gay parents might be less able to guide their children through adolescence than heterosexual parents; There is no evidence that gay people, as a group, are more likely to engage in domestic violence or sexual abuse than heterosexual people; The exclusion of gay people and people with gay family members may be harmful to children because it excludes a pool of effective foster parents.

The lawsuit challenged a state regulation that banned gay people and anyone living in a household with a gay adult from being foster parents and was filed against the state in 1999. The state allowed gay people to serve as foster parents in Arkansas before the ban and does not know of any child whose health, safety, or welfare have ever been endangered by living with lesbian and gay foster parents.

The Court went on to say that the state’s argument to the contrary “flies in the face” of the scientific evidence about the suitability of lesbian and gay people as foster parents. The Court added that “the driving force behind adoption of the regulation was not to promote the health, safety, and welfare of foster children, but rather based upon the Board’s view of morality and its bias against homosexuals."