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story.lead_photo.caption Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza presides over an arraignment in January 2009. ( Benjamin Krain)

A Pulaski County circuit judge has overturned Arkansas’ law banning unmarried couples living together from adopting or fostering children.

Circuit Judge Chris Piazza said Initiated Act One, passed by voters in 2008, constituted an unwarranted invasion of privacy. The law effectively banned gays from adopting or fostering children because they are unable to legally marry in Arkansas.

He said in his two-page ruling that people in “non-marital relationships” are forced to choose between becoming a parent and sustaining that relationship. Piazza wrote that the act was "especially troubling" in how it singled out the "politically unpopular group."

“Due process and equal protection are not hollow words without substance,” he said. “They are rights enumerated in our constitution that must not be construed in such a way as to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people.”

Piazza agreed with claims by families who said the ban lessened the number of available adoptive and foster parents to the point where thousands of children could go without homes.


Judge overturns state adoption law


He said the ban cast “an unreasonably broad net” and did not serve the state’s interest.

The act was passed after the state Supreme Court ruled that the Child Welfare Agency Review Board exceeded its authority by approving a regulation banning homosexuals from serving as foster parents. The court ruled in DHS v. Howard that the regulation was based upon morality and bias.

The American Civil Liberties Union then sued the state in December 2008 on behalf of a group of families seeking to overturn the ban.

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

Thank you for coming to the Web site of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. We're working to keep you informed with the latest breaking news.

Information for this article was contributed by The Associated Press.


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Archived Comments

  • DontDrinkDatKoolAid
    April 16, 2010 at 3:43 p.m.

    Now children have more of a chance of having a real home.
    This judge should go tho the Supreme Court!!!! He knows how to read the Constitution.

  • BryanM67
    April 16, 2010 at 3:48 p.m.

    I have to disagree. When Act 1 was passed by the votes, in effect the Constitution was amended. How does a judge not only overturn the will of the people but also declare that part of the Constitution is now unconstitutional?

    If someone feels this is unjust, the proper way to undo it is through the ballot box.

  • MissingJohn
    April 16, 2010 at 3:52 p.m.

    The United States Constitution wasn't amended, Bryan, and a state cannot overrule our Federal Constitution. Voters cannot change that, only Congress can, and hopefully they will continue to have enough sense not to allow such an idiot law to take place on the federal level

  • ARAgitator
    April 16, 2010 at 3:59 p.m.

    In ARKANSAS? Surely you jest. This state is in the pocket of the Religionists - Jerry Cocks and His Band of Bigots will not STAND for this. Just because most people need to feel superior, and the only "fair game" in 2010 is GLBT CITIZENS, that's their target. This "ban" has NOTHING to do with what's best for children, and everything to do with unjust discrimination based on the fundamentalist's warped view of the Bible - to which they are COMPLETELY entitled AND has NO place in public policy. Their champion "expert," Paul Cameron has been kicked out of every professional society that he's attempted to join; he's a fraud AND is as gay as a $3 bill himself. His "expertise" is based entirely upon self-hatred and the low-information folks who go along with Cocks & Co. Look around the world and see that the ONLY places crap like this exists is in Religionist-dominated societies. This crap will be looked upon by our rising grandchildren as "did these people have a BRAIN?"

  • ARAgitator
    April 16, 2010 at 4:03 p.m.

    ...and KUDOS to Maddjack for not parroting the usual "conservative" drivel on this one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • arkienanna
    April 16, 2010 at 4:07 p.m.

    As a Christian and a mother, I am thrilled to see that our great state may now be on the way to correcting this terrible decision that has denied loving homes to those who need them most.

  • Salinelawyer
    April 16, 2010 at 4:23 p.m.

    Judge Piazza has always been fair and followed the law when I have been in front of him. That doesn't mean I have always benefited from him doing so. However, I will never complain when a judge does exactly what he was elected to do. I am not surprised to see that he maintained his trust/belief in the law and was not swayed by the publicity surrounding this issue. Thank you Judge Piazza.

  • ALoweRoland
    April 16, 2010 at 4:26 p.m.

    It's a good day to be an Arkansan. Thank you, Judge Piazza!

  • 3061
    April 16, 2010 at 4:27 p.m.

    I agree that we need to let the gay community adopt kids, it cannot be any worse than the straight pedophiles! We must realize that we can do whatever we want to as long as it is liberal enough!

  • ToTheLeft
    April 16, 2010 at 4:30 p.m.

    Good for the judge!