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Arkansas bill seeks to prevent gay people from becoming foster parents

Arkansan wingnut Rep. Bob Adams, D-Sheridan.

I haven’t had to post anything about this state lately. Guess the wingnuts there want to jump into the race to reach the bottom of the tolerance list along with Alabama and Virginia. Here is the summary of the bill from the Arkansas Legislature web site:

To clarify that the Department of Human Services shall not place a child with an adoptive or foster parent who is homosexual or in a home where an adult homosexual resides.” (Arkansas News Bureau):

Last month, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox declared unconstitutional a regulation being enforced by the Child Welfare Agency Review Board that prohibited gay people or any family with a gay member from becoming foster parents.

Fox said in his ruling the board has the legislative authority to “promote the health, safety and welfare of children,” but not morals. House Bill 1119 by Rep. Bob Adams, D-Sheridan, attempts to give the board the authority.

“What I’m looking at is the well being of the children placed in the Department of Human Services,” said Adams, who was Grant County sheriff before being elected to the House. “I was in law enforcement for 32 years and when DHS is involved there is generally some kind of tragedy, an emotional problem that the child is having to deal with and if you put (the child) into a situation that could cause more emotional problems, I just think it is wrong,” Adams said Friday afternoon.

Adams said his bill would simply make legal a regulation the Child Welfare Agency Review Board has been following for some time. He said his proposal was not anti-homosexual. Rita Sklar, director Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, disagreed.

If you want to talk about morality let’s talk about the kids,” Sklar said. “The judge found that Arkansas needs more qualified foster parents and that gay people can provide good homes for foster children and that the exclusion of gay people and people with gay family members may be harmful because it excludes a pool of effective foster parents.

“The judge said, and I agree, that it is immoral to exclude a perfectly qualified group of people based on bias and opinion and not on fact,” she said. “And while this is being cloaked under the rubric of public morality, it is nothing more than a personal dislike of gay people.”

In his ruling, Fox said that court testimony did not show that gay foster parents posed a threat to the health, safety or welfare of children. The judge issued an injunction banning enforcement of the board’s regulation.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding