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Arkansas Senate moves anti-gay adoption/fostering bill to floor

“This bill is bad for our state and our children for many reasons, not the least of which is that it will rob parents of the ability to decide who will care for their children if something happens to them. If you want your gay brother or your lesbian aunt to adopt and raise your children if you die, your wishes will be disregarded by the state if this bill passes.”
— Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas

SB 959 would ban gay people and most unmarried straight couples who cohabitate from adopting or serving as foster parents.

The bill was submitted a few months after the state Supreme Court struck down a ban on fostering by gay citizens. It was approved to go to the full Senate this morning by the Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee. This bill is heinous. If it passes, lesbian and gay Arkansans will be banned from adopting or serving as foster parents, even if they’re relatives of the children in question

These people are so blinded by hate that the bill would also ban unmarried straight couples from adopting even if they are related to the child. The ACLU of Arkansas notes that this means that it could prevent godparents or family friends from caring for a child if the parents die or can’t keep the child.

Read more after the jump.From the ACLU site:

In its decision in DHS v. Howard unanimously striking down the state regulation banning gay people and people with gay adults living in their homes from serving as foster parents, the Arkansas Supreme Court cited the following findings of fact based on the scientific evidence presented at the trial court:

* Children of lesbian and gay parents are just as well-adjusted as children of heterosexual parents.
* Being raised by gay parents doesn’t increase the risk of psychological, behavioral, academic, gender identity, or any other sort of adjustment problems.
* Being raised by gay parents doesn’t prevent children from forming healthy relationships with their peers and others.
  * There is no factual basis for saying that gay parents might be less able to guide their children through adolescence than heterosexual parents.
  * There is no evidence that gay people, as a group, are more likely to engage in domestic violence or sexual abuse than heterosexual people.

Even with that information in mind, the bigots in the legislature are trying to shove this through.

“This bill flies in the face of what all respected child welfare organizations, social scientists, and Arkansans themselves know about what’s best for the children in our foster care system,” said Jim Harper, L.C.S.W., L.M.F.T., a Little Rock social worker who works with abused children and their families. “Foster care and adoptive placements should be made after careful, individualized screening of each potential parent, regardless of who he or she is. A blanket exclusion of any group of people that might be able to provide loving, stable homes when we have so many children in need of homes in our state foster care system is unconscionable.”

National Stonewall Dems:

“Republicans have diligently pushed this adoption ban as an attempt to divide the people of Arkansas and advance their narrow interests,” said Jo Wyrick, Executive Director of the National Stonewall Democrats. “As a Democrat and as a mother, I am ashamed that Senate Democrats in Arkansas have cowered to Republican pressure and failed to defend the principles of the Democratic Party. The action taken by this committee threatens the children of Arkansas and that is why the Stonewall Democrats are working to ensure that Democrats defend families instead of a Republican agenda.”

…Democratic Governor Mike Beebe stated on Monday that he is still reviewing the legislation. However, during his 2006 campaign for the office, Beebe publicly stated that he would support reinstating a ban on gay foster parents that was recently struck-down by Arkansas courts. The Arkansas Stonewall Democrats revoked their endorsement of Beebe after the candidate took the position, which contradicted earlier statements made to Stonewall members.

Senate Bill 959 must now be approved by the full Arkansas Senate as well as the House of Representatives. In 2006, Kathy Webb – the founder of the Arkansas Stonewall Democrats – was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives, making Webb the first openly-gay elected official in Arkansas.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding