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VIDEO: Supreme Court upholds reversal of adoption ban

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published April 7, 2011 at 9:05 a.m. Updated April 7, 2011 at 11:09 a.m.


Arkansas Family Council President Jerry Cox, left, speaks to reporters at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock after the state Supreme Court struck down an Arkansas law prohibiting gay couples and other unmarried people who live together from adopting or serving as foster parents.

Family Council decries Act I ruling

The president of the Family Council called the ruling upholding a ban on Act 1 the worst decision ev...

— The Arkansas Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that said voter-approved adoption restrictions on unmarried couples who live together were unconstitutional.

The state's high court on Thursday released its opinion unanimously affirming a Pulaski County circuit judge's ruling last April that Initiated Act I of 2008 intrudes on privacy rights guaranteed by the Arkansas Constitution.

"The State's compelling interest, no doubt, is protection of the welfare of Arkansas's children, but we further hold that under a heightened-scrutiny analysis, which is the standard that applies to this case, the least restrictive means of serving that interest has not been employed," Associate Justice Robert L. Brown wrote in the 25-page opinion.

Proponents of Act 1 said it ensured children in state custody were placed in the safest homes while opponents argued it unfairly and illegally prohibited gay and other unmarried couples in sexual relationships from adopting.

Brown wrote that individualized assessments by the Department of Human Services and courts are effective in identifying issues with would-be adoptive parents. He said that method was the "least restrictive" and in the best interest of Arkansas's children rather than a blanket ban like Act I.

"By imposing a categorical ban on all persons who cohabit with a sexual partner, Act 1 removes the ability of the State and our courts to conduct these individualized assessments on these individuals, many of whom could qualify and be entirely suitable foster or adoptive parents," Brown wrote.

Jerry Cox of the Family Council, which worked to pass Act I, called the ruling the worst decision the Supreme Court has made and a "slap in the face" to Arkansas voters. He said his organization was considering a constitutional amendment or legislation to bring the adoption rules back into effect while noting an appeal in federal court is possible but unlikely.

"Today the Arkansas Supreme Court put the rights of adults way ahead of the welfare of children," Cox said.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented , issued a statement praising the court's decision.

“This ruling is a relief for the over 1,600 children in the state of Arkansas who need a permanent family," Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas said. "The state admitted good families would be banned by this law, and that we have a critical shortage of homes. This ban wouldn’t even allow a relative – gay or straight – to foster or adopt a child with whom they had a close relationship, so long as that relative was unmarried and living with a partner. The court clearly saw that this ban violated the constitutional rights of our clients and thousands of other Arkansans.”

The law approving Act I passed by 57 percent of Arkansas voters in November 2008.

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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Comments on: VIDEO: Supreme Court upholds reversal of adoption ban

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WarrenGerrald says... April 7, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.

Seems to me as one of those who voted FOR the restriction that my intention was NOT to use the "least restrictive" method, but indeed to RESTRICT the adoption of children ONLY to legally married couples!

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Garycmillerlawgmailcom says... April 7, 2011 at 9:32 a.m.

Good decision, and good for the children who need loving homes.

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80Redux says... April 7, 2011 at 9:38 a.m.

Bad decision, and bad for the children who need loving homes.

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80Redux says... April 7, 2011 at 9:39 a.m.

The headline should read "High Court Thwarts the Will of the People Again!"

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TheBatt says... April 7, 2011 at 9:40 a.m.

Remember- Arkansas Supreme Court Judges are elected....

There are no "privacy" issues. If there were, then the entire screening process for foster and adoptive parents would then have to be struck down: no background checks, no means testing, no home inspections.

This nation continues the march... One that ignores the will of the people, and places legislative powers in the hands of the judiciary (which is unconstitutional).

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MICHBEL says... April 7, 2011 at 9:41 a.m.

Children need loving homes, and that does not always or exclusively equate to male-female married couples. That also comes in the form of same-sex couples, unmarried male-female couples, and single-family homes. Great decision, and good for the children of the state of Arkansas. We took a step FORWARD today!!

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rainbowharold55 says... April 7, 2011 at 9:49 a.m.

Fantastic news- and a huge blow against the forces of bigotry like Jerry Cox and the Family Council.

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outinthesticks says... April 7, 2011 at 9:50 a.m.

Why don't we just line them up and kill's the same thing we do with the unborn. You liberals want it both ways, and with the help of the courts, it looks like you'll always get your way. This country is headed for hell in a handbasket.

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ToTheLeft says... April 7, 2011 at 9:54 a.m.

Good for the children! Shame on the ones who are against the children finding homes.

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NWAConsumerReview says... April 7, 2011 at 9:54 a.m.

This is, indeed, a wise and well considered opinion. There is absolutely no evidence that "traditional" homes are any more effective in parenting than the homes of same-sex couples, unmarried male-female couples and single-family homes.

There are many children who need the homes made available in these non-traditional situations and if they can do as good or better job at parenting then why not allow them allow them to do it. There is no evidence that the future in life for these children will be any worse than from a traditional family.

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