The Voters Have Spoken, Unmarried Couples Banned from Adopting or Foster Parenting in Arkansas

BlogHer Original Post

In the shadows of the shock and outrage over the passage of California's Proposition 8, lies the passage of a much less talked about, but equally deserving of outrage, Initiative; Arkansas Initiative Act No. 1. Initiative Act No. 1, also called the Unmarried Couple Adoption Ban, prohibits the placement of minors for adoption or foster care in homes of unmarried cohabiting couples. The initiative passed with 57% of voters voting in favor of the ban.

Section 1: Adoption and foster care of minors.
(a) A minor may not be adopted or placed in a foster home if the individual seeking to adopt or to serve as a foster parent is cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of a marriage which is valid under the constitution and laws of this state.
(b) The prohibition of this section applies equally to cohabiting opposite-sex and same-sex individuals.
-full Initiative, and discussion can be found at Worse Than Prop 8, by FishOutofWater

While the language of initiative does not single out same-sex couples as the target of the ban, the authors of the initiative spell it out clearly on their website. Point 3 of 3 from the "About the Adoption Act" page of the Family Council Action Committee (FCAC) site, couldn't be more clear on this point.

This act seeks to blunt a homosexual agenda that has used the shortage of adoptive or foster care homes in other states as a means of advancing their social agenda. Laws have been passed in eight states that support the homosexual agenda when it comes to the adoption or foster care of children. Arkansas has no law to prevent homosexual adoption. Homosexuals are adopting children and this will continue until a law is passed. A lawsuit filed by the ACLU and supported by homosexuals resulted in an Arkansas judge overturning state regulations banning homosexuals from serving as foster parents. The Arkansas Adoption Act addresses this issue as well.

Interestingly, while the FCAC talks about how scores of scientific studies show the best place for kids is in a home with a married mother and father, and reiterates this point again and again on the FAQs page, the initiative does not ban adoption or fostering by single people; gay or straight. So while the FCAC claims that this ban on unmarried cohabiting couples is not about discriminating against gays, it's about what's best for the children, I'm having a difficult time seeing how it isn't discrimination. If it's about doing what's best for the children, then it should follow that children should only be placed in homes of married heterosexual couples.

I think it is also important to point out that this initiative was written as a reaction to a 2006 Arkansas supreme court decision which threw out a ban that prevented gay people from being foster parents. The decision ended a 7 year fight between the ACLU and the state of Arkansas.

According to the FCAC, there about 3,600 children in foster care in Arkansas at any given time. 500 of those children are ready for adoption. There are 7.2 kids in foster care for every foster home available statewide. With a ratio of children in need of foster care to foster homes available being so incredibly high, the national average is 3.7 kids to every home, why on earth would a state want to decrease the number of homes available? The FCAC's answer is this.

The Arkansas Adoption Act will increase the number of homes for adoptive and foster care children. Adoptive and foster care children need good homes and the best way to find those homes is to make people aware of the need. Any shortage of foster homes or any shortage of families willing to adopt can be attributed to the fact that married couples are not meeting this need. As the Arkansas Adoption Act is discussed and debated it will highlight the need for more homes and result in an increase in the number of good homes for Arkansas' most vulnerable children.

What? Maybe there are a few dots somewhere that I just can't see to be able to make the connection. While I wouldn't bet on there being an increase in foster homes from the sudden awareness of the need for homes, I do hope for the sake of the children in foster care in Arkansas that the FCAC is right about this.

While it may be shocking to some that Arkansas passed this Initiative, know that Arkansas is not the first state to pass such a law. Gay people, singles or couples can not adopt in Florida. Same-sex couples can not adopt in Mississippi. Same-sex couples may not adopt or foster in Utah. In most states, adoption is actually a gray area. Adoption laws may vary from county to county. There are only 10 states that allow joint adoption, statewide, by same-sex couples. There are also 10 states that allow for second parent adoption statewide, and there are 15 states that allows second parent adoptions in some jurisdictions. See HRC map for details.

If you're upset about the passage of California's Prop 8, Arizona's Prop 102, Florida's Prop 2, and Arkansas Initiative Act No 1, let your voice be heard. Join the national protest, Saturday November 15th. Events are being held in cities all across the U.S. Check out Join The Impact for protest events in a city near you.

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