ACLU asks judge to deny state’s attempt to dismiss case
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An Arkansas law banning unmarried couples from adopting or fostering children does not help promote marriage because the state does not allow gay or lesbian couples to wed, opponents of the act told a state judge Friday, Feb. 27.
The Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union asked Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Chris Piazza to deny the state’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit over the new law, which went into effect Jan. 1 after voters approved the ban in November.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel asked Piazza in January to dismiss the group’s challenge of the initiated act.
In a brief filed Friday, the ACLU rejected the state’s argument that the initiated act promotes a legitimate state interest in marriage.
"With respect to gay and lesbian cohabiting couples, there is no rational relationship between Act 1 and promoting marriage because same-sex couples are legally precluded from marrying under Arkansas law," the group said in its motion. "Thus, there is no incentive to marry that could possibly result in gay couples marrying in the State."
Arkansas voters in 2004 approved a constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Initiated Act 1 bans adoption and fostering by any unmarried couples living together.
The ACLU chapter sued the state on behalf of more than a dozen families seeking to overturn the law. In the suit, the families argue that the act’s language was misleading to voters and that it violates the families’ constitutional rights.
The Arkansas Family Council, a conservative group that collected signatures to put the measure before voters in November, has asked to intervene in the lawsuit.