Ark. Supreme Court strikes down adoption ban

Posted on 07 Apr 2011 at 10:13am

The Arkansas Supreme Court today upheld a lower court’s ruling striking down the state’s 2008 adoption ban as unconstitutional.

Act 1, which Arkansas voters approved by a margin of 57 percent three years ago, prohibited unmarried couples who live together, including same-sex couples, from adopting.

But in a decision published without dissent this morning, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that the ban violates’ couples’ right to privacy.

“We hold that a fundamental right to privacy is at issue in this case and that, under the Arkansas Constitution, sexual co-habitors have the right to engage in private, consensual, noncommercial intimacy in the privacy of their homes,” the court wrote. “We further hold that this right is jeopardized by Act 1 which precludes all sexual cohabitors, without exception, from eligibility for parenthood, whether by means of adoption or foster care. …”

According to the Human Rights Campaign, today’s decision leaves only Mississippi and Utah that ban adoption for unmarried couples, including same-sex couples.

“The Arkansas Supreme Court has removed a discriminatory barrier for loving gay and lesbian couples who, child welfare experts agree, are equally able parents,” HRC President Joe Solmonese said in a statement. “Too many children are in need of a loving home and the court has rightfully put their interests ahead of discrimination.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which organized the lawsuit challenging Act 1, is expected to hold a press conference later today.

Read the Supreme Court’s full opinion here.

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