Thursday, April 7, 2011

Arkansas Supreme Court Strikes Down Adoption Ban for Unmarried Couples

In 2008, Arkansas voters approved a ballot initiative that prohibited adoption and foster care placements with any unmarried couple, gay or straight, who cohabited. As the Wall Street Journal notes, though:
“The intent behind the [Arkansas] law was to try to prevent gay and lesbians from adopting or serving as foster parents,” said Garrard Beeney, a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell who represented couples challenging the law. “This is another step in the direction of striking down laws based on stereotypes and advancing efforts to place children in loving homes.”
A unanimous court held that the law violated constitutional privacy rights:
“The choice imposed on cohabiting sexual partners, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is dramatic,” Justice Robert Brown wrote for the court. “They must chose either to lead a life of private, sexual intimacy with a partner without the opportunity to adopt or foster children or forego sexual cohabitation and, thereby, attain eligibility to adopt or foster.”
You can read the judicial opinion here.  The court's decision is carefully based on the Arkansas Constitution, not the U.S. Constitution, which pretty much insulates it from appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

So in less than a year, we see courts striking down Florida's and Arkansas' ban on gay adoption!

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