Beebe’s sidestepping, flip-flopping approach to issue continues
LITTLE ROCK Gov. Mike Beebe did something Friday, Oct. 12 he’s rarely done in the yearlong debate over whether the state should reimpose a ban on gay foster parents.
He came down strongly on one side of the issue.
Days after initially ducking the question of whether he opposed the latest attempt by a conservative group to revive the prohibition, Beebe said he opposed banning unmarried couples from fostering or adopting children. Beebe said restrictions on adoption just go too far.
“That’s why I’m against this initiated act. I’m not going to vote for that initiated act,” Beebe said.
Since Arkansas’ highest court overturned the state’s ban on gay foster parents last year, Beebe has consistently ducked offering specific, definitive statements on the prohibition. Beebe has said he supports reinstating the ban, but hasn’t said how that can be done.
Even when he raised concerns about the adoption restrictions, Beebe initially evaded saying whether he opposes the proposal by the Arkansas Family Council. Instead, he focused on the differences between foster care and adoptions.
“I can’t be any more specific, I think, than that,” Beebe said.
Turns out he could. And he still can be.
Beebe says he’s been consistent in his stance on the gay foster ban. He has been consistent, but mostly in how cautiously he’s approached the subject.
As a candidate for governor last year, Beebe at first wouldn’t say whether he agreed with the Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the ban. The day of the ruling, Beebe’s campaign offered a prepared statement that said he believed marriage was between a man and a woman and mentioned that he’s the son of a single mother.
The statement didn’t say anything about the ban. It wasn’t until a day later that Beebe said he supported reinstating the ban if it was constitutional.
Republicans tried to target Beebe on his evasions about the ban, but found little traction among voters, who said health care, the economy and education trumped social issues like the foster parent restrictions.
There was also little need for Beebe to step out on the ban when legislation renewing the ban and prohibiting unmarried couples living together from fostering worked its way through the General Assembly.
Riding the high of his election and his successful push of his signature cut in the grocery sales tax, Beebe initially brushed off questions about the bill. After the Senate passed the ban, Beebe’s comment that the measure had “constitutional problems” was enough to tilt skeptical lawmakers against it. Ultimately, the proposal died in a House committee.
Assuming supporters gather the 62,000 signatures necessary to place the act on the ballot, Beebe is unlikely to speak out about the ban any further. He’s said he has no plans to campaign against te measure.
“I think we’re going to have some other issues that we’re going to have to be worried about,” Beebe said.
Politically, there may be little for the governor to gain by becoming outspoken on the issue. His vague criticisms of the legislation earlier this year and the initiated act give opponents of the ban ammunition.
Being outspoken on it could be used against him by Republicans eager to rally around the foster parent ban.
One area where Beebe has remained consistent is what the focus ultimately should be t he best interest of the child.
This article appeared in the October 19, 2007 edition of the Dallas Voice.