Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Arkansas Adoption Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

Back in 2008, Arkansas voters passed a law banning unmarried cohabitating couples from adopting children or being foster parents. Although the text of the law states that it is to apply "equally to cohabitating opposite-sex [sic*] and same-sex individuals [sic**]," in reality a primary goal of the law, as the Family Council Action Committee admitted, was to prevent same-sex couples from adopting or fostering children.

Judge Chris Piazza of Pulaski County Circuit Court recently ruled that this law is unconstitutional under the Arkansas Constitution. While the judge used rational-basis review to uphold the law under the US Constitution, he noted that the Arkansas Constitution offers greater protection of individual rights, writing:

"[T]he Act significantly burdens non-marital relationships and acts of sexual intimacy between adults because it forces them to choose between becoming a parent and having any meaningful type of intimate relationship outside of marriage. This infringes upon the fundamental right of privacy guaranteed to all citizens of Arkansas....[I]t is especially troubling that one politically unpopular group has been specifically targeted for exclusion by the Act. Due Process and Equal Protection are not hollow words without substance."

Well said. Unfortunately, what often transforms Due Process and Equal Rights into hollow words is the will of the majority.

*Male and female are not opposites.

**"Cohabitating same-sex individuals" and "cohabitating opposite-sex individuals" are nonsensical statements. Individuals aren't "same-sex." Couples are. Also, individuals don't "cohabitate." Couples do. You know, together.

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