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Arkansas Judge Strikes Adoption Ban

An Arkansas court struck down a law Friday that bans unmarried people who live with a partner of either sex from adopting or foster parenting in the state. The ban disproportionately impacted same sex couples because same-sex marriage is illegal in Arkansas. In 2008, 57 percent of voters in the state were in favor of the ban. Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled the ban “infringes upon the fundamental right to privacy guaranteed to all citizens of Arkansas,” reported the Arkansas News and puts an unconstitutional burden on unmarried couples. He also wrote that, “due process and equal protection are not hollow words without substance. They are rights enumerated in our constitution that must not be construed in such a way as to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people.” Canada Views reports that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a complaint against the ban following the election in 2008. Plaintiffs in the case included a grandmother who was unable to adopt her grandchild under the ban, a lesbian couple who are adoptive parents and seek to adopt another special needs child, and several heterosexual married couples whose chosen next of kin would have been banned from adopting their children in case of the death or incapacitation of the parents. Holly Dickson, an ACLU lawyer who worked on the case, told the Associated Press that they hope, as a result of the ruling, “to see the state screening everyone that could be a potential good parent” to children who are in need of adoptive homes.

Sources:

Canada Views 4/16/10; Arkansas News 4/16/10; Associated Press 4/17/10

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