Arkansas Judge Strikes Down Discriminatory Adoption Ban
April 16, 2010
The following post comes from Winter 2010 McCleary Law Fellow, Aaron Friedman: Today, a circuit judge ruled that the Arkansas ban on unmarried couples adopting and serving as foster parents is unconstitutional. The law, approved by voters in 2008, effectively prohibited same-sex couples from adopting, because they are not allowed to marry in the state. After the law was passed, the ACLU immediately filed the case on behalf of a group of 29 children and adults. Judge Chris Piazza held that the ban violated the constitutional right to privacy, because it forced individuals to choose between having a non-marital relationship and becoming a parent. The ban reduced the number of available homes for children seeking adoption, while not serving a legitimate state interest. Judge Piazza rejected the state’s argument that it is in the best interests of children to be raised in traditional family settings, and that the ban protects children from abuse and neglect. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee recently defended the adoption ban, controversially stating that “children are not puppies.” Utah also bans non-married couples from adopting. In Mississippi, couples of the same gender cannot petition to adopt. In Michigan, state courts have ruled that unmarried individuals may not jointly petition to adopt. Florida outright prohibits gays and lesbians from adopting.
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