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story.lead_photo.caption Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza presides over an arraignment in January 2009. - Photo by 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.

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Information for this article was contributed by The Associated Press.

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  • mrprincipal03_yahoo-com
    April 16, 2010 at 4:40 p.m.

    The "proper" way is to have the decision adjudicated on it's merits. That would be the State Supreme Court.

    I knew when this ballot initiative first surfaced that it would be challenged and was probably unconstitutional.

    Opinions are fine, they are even better when backed up by valid, factual information within the context of the issue being discussed.

  • AdvocateforFosterKids
    April 16, 2010 at 4:47 p.m.

    Don't fool yourselves - there are already all kinds of things that keep people from fostering or adopting: if you have more than three children under the age of 6 you can't foster more or adopt more in that age range; if you live on the second floor of an apartment and don't have two exits, you can't foster or adopt; if you don't have a landline telephone you cannot foster or adopt - the list goes on.

    This law applied to ALL cohabiting adults - not just gays and lesbians. If you do some research, you will see that most children who are abused are abused by the "live-in boyfriend" of a woman with small children. This law was protecting children from that situation as well. These kids have had enough upheaval in their lives without being put in another situation of instability.

    This is not necessarily a political thing, as everyone seems to make it. It is to protect children, not the "rights" of people to adopt them. One focuses on the "needs" of adults, and the other focuses on the needs and what is best for the child.

    That being said, if more Christian singles (non-cohabiting) and couples would come forward, this wouldn't even be a debate because the best families could be selected for a given child. I hope this is a wake-up call to the Christian community that if we don't stand in the gap for these kids, others will.

  • DontDrinkDatKoolAid
    April 16, 2010 at 5:11 p.m.

    Whats being or not being a christian will it matter for a child to be, {I hate using this word} "placed" into a safe and stable home, a home to grow up in...? This ruling now gives children more hope than just christian s.
    ARA you kill me! Hahahaha! I love you too! Hahahaha!!!!
    Thanks MissingJohn for the support....and all those that understand the needs of children...their not kids, they are children.

  • Bambic
    April 16, 2010 at 5:27 p.m.

    This is the best news I have heard in a long, long time. Kudos, Judge.

  • DontDrinkDatKoolAid
    April 16, 2010 at 5:59 p.m.

    I got one dumb question, what moron allowed this now out dated law to become law to begin with?

  • NickieD
    April 16, 2010 at 6:06 p.m.

    "The will of the people..." well Brayn, there is nothing in any Consitution in America that bans gay people from anything.
    If it became the will of the people to skin everyone named Bryan, you would probably not like that... so it is with the gay folks, they are just people too. Once you get that through your bibble brain you will be much happier and well adjusted.
    Now we need to make it illegal to addopt outside of the US and try to get the over 35 million kids in orphanages in the US into good homes. By the way, that number includes children who have been sexually abused by parents and friends of parents, beaten kids, kids dropped in dumpsters and dropped off at churches and other collection points. Handicapped, both mentally and physically too. That number does not include the over 500,000 (mostly murdered and sold) who disappear each year.
    The point is, as I have said many times before, many unwanted American children are warehoused ready for somebody to love them, yet unthinking cruel people go to foreign countries to adopt. We don't need more new children, we need to deal with the ones who are here, now. The Duggers (a totally disgusting group) and the Octo-Mom (who actually has 14 kids and no visiable means of support or even a husband) are typical examples of people who are inconsiderate beyond even the normal Arkansas standard of bibblicel bigotry.
    Google up the "unwanted children in America" and see this horror story for yourself.
    This country needs to:
    First; offer 2 children tax deductions only for tax purposes.
    Second; amend welfare rules so that only 2 children will be supported on tax dollars. Make Birth control and abortions free and available.
    Third; pass a law prohibiting the adoption of foreign children until every single child in America has a loving home.
    Fourth; make any kind of child molestation BY ANYONE (even a holy Religionist) a capital crime.
    I don't just bitch, I offer solutions.

  • DontDrinkDatKoolAid
    April 16, 2010 at 6:09 p.m.

    That is how said it was Constitutional to be placed on the ballot

  • NickieD
    April 16, 2010 at 6:14 p.m.

    If the need for families for these kids was not so desperate, I'd say why Christian families at all? Why teach kids a reliance on the supernatural anyway.. though Christians are better than nothing, they are not better, Mr AdvforFostKids!

  • ARAgitator
    April 16, 2010 at 6:34 p.m.

    "This is not necessarily a political thing, as everyone seems to make it." --Advocate, above.

    You must not be from Arkansas - this was/is 100% political!! When his previous attempt was thrown out, he upped the ante from gays/lesbians to "cohabiting." THAT was simply a POLITICAL ploy to get around the Constitution! I call BS on most of what you said, because the "system" needs to investigate the foster applicants and follow-up on all these children, not eliminate certain groups. To say "this class" of potential parents is OK, but "that class" is not isn't just unworkable, it's - HELLO ... un-Constitutional!! You cannot be serious in stating that making the pool of potential care-givers SMALLER is a good thing when the system is overflowing with children with NO home. Wake up. We know a number of gay/lesbian parents, some single some in relationships. They are NO different in terms of parenting skills from us or you.

    Cocks' next step would have been to attempt to TAKE AWAY the children who are already in gay/lesbian homes, guaranteed! Now he'll use the low-information "Christian Taliban" Arkansans to raise Mo Money to support his tilting at windmills - it's about the do-re-mi, and hating on GLBT CITIZENS, NOT about "protecting" children.

  • kcjenkins
    April 16, 2010 at 7:04 p.m.

    I don't have a problem with a committed stable gay couple adopting, but I do have a problem with uncommitted couples of any sex adopting, because the children are the ones who end up suffering. And that business about blocking foreign adoptions is total BS. Most of all the parents who adopt overseas would have preferred to adopt here, but were not able to find a child here. Because our laws are so determined to try to "keep families together" that we will not sever the parental rights even of a parent that seriously injured their own child, so the vast number of children in foster care are not available to adopt. That is simple fact, but as long as the rights of the parent are put above the needs of the child, it will continue to be a problem. I've known several families who adopted overseas, after trying for years to find a child here. One single woman adopted a child from India with spina bifida, after she was turned down seven times here. She had a loving heart, financial security, and was willing to take a child with problems, but still was not able to find a child here. That is the part we need to fix.