Arkansas Supreme Court Upholds Overturning Ban on Unmarried Couples Adopting
Thursday saw the Arkansas state Supreme Court uphold a lower court’s decision overturning a 2008 voter-enacted ban on unmarried couples adopting or fostering in the state.
Voters enacted Act 1, a ban on all unmarried couples from adopting of fostering, in 2008 at the same time as California saw its now infamous Proposition 8 gay marriage ban enacted. Act 1 was a de facto ban on same-sex couples rearing children because by state law they can not marry, but the ban’s reach was wider than that and also affected opposite-sex couples in the same way. The ban was quickly challenged in court and was never enforced.
The case, Cole v. Arkansas, had ACLU Arkansas argue that the ban unconstitutionally burdens unmarried couples, same-sex and opposite-sex, from adopting and fostering even while single people are allowed to adopt and foster, undermining the state attorney general’s argument that the ban was to further the traditional marriage agenda in keeping with other bans the state enacted such as a ban on same-sex marriage.
A lower court overturned the ban in April of last year saying that it violated the state’s constitution, though the court rejected that the ban violated the United States Constitution. For more on the history of the case, click here.
The Arkansas Supreme Court agreed issuing an interesting ruling that cites the ban violating the plaintiffs’ right to privacy.
The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a voter-approved initiative that barred gay couples and other unmarried people living together from serving as adoptive or foster parents.
Associate Justice Robert L. Brown wrote for the court that the law would encroach on adults’ right to privacy in the bedroom.
The law “directly and substantially burdens the privacy rights of ‘opposite-sex and same-sex individuals’ who engage in private, consensual sexual conduct in the bedroom by foreclosing their eligibility to foster or adopt children,” Brown wrote.
Last month U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand indicated that she is currently working on federal legislation that would prevent couples and single prospective adoptive and foster partners being discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation.
Senator Gillibrand would not be drawn on when she will introduce that legislation, but did indicate that counterpart legislation would also be on the agenda in the U.S. House. For more information on this, please click here.