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Progress in Arkansas: Judge Voids Ban on Gay Foster Parents

Some good news in a Red state; the irony is that Arkansas actually allows gays and lesbians to formally adopt children, and that the ban on foster care is unique. Unfortunately, reading this article, you see how the losing side of this case presented fallacious reasons for wanting to keep the ban in place, including a claim that gays are more prone to drug abuse. (AP):

An Arkansas judge Wednesday declared unconstitutional a state ban on placing foster children in any household with a gay member.

Ruling in a case brought by the Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Timothy Fox said the state Child Welfare Agency Review board had overstepped its authority by trying to regulate “public morality.”

At issue was a 1999 board regulation that said gays cannot become foster parents, and foster children cannot be placed in any home with a gay member under its roof.

The ACLU had argued that the regulation violates the equal-protection rights of gays. But the judge’s ruling did not turn on that argument.

Instead, Fox noted that the Arkansas Legislature gave the child-welfare board the power to “promote the health, safety and welfare of children,” but the ban does not accomplish that. Rather, he said the regulation seeks to regulate “public morality” — something the board was not given the authority to do.

“The testimony and evidence overwhelmingly showed that there was no rational relationship between the … blanket exclusion (of gays) and the health, safety and welfare of the foster children,” Fox wrote.

Rita Sklar, director of the Arkansas chapter of the ACLU, expressed satisfaction with the ruling.

“He made extensive findings of fact and he accepted everything we entered into the record refuting the state’s reasons for the regulation, including these ridiculous claims that gay people are more likely to do drugs or have diseases,” Sklar said.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding