Arkansas group seeks to ban gay adoptions

Posted on 31 Jan 2008 at 8:28pm
By Andrew DeMillo – Associated Press

Family Council Action Committee launches petition drive to put measure on November ballot



Ken Carney of Hot Springs, Ark., is the first person to sign a ballot to place an adoption and foster care initiative on the November 2008 ballot, as Jerry Cox, director of the Family Council Action Committee, back left, and John Thomas, vice president of the Family Council Action Committee, back right, look on. – MIKE WINTROATH/Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK The Family Council Action Committee launched a drive Thursday, Jan. 24, to put a measure banning unmarried couples living together from fostering or adopting children on the ballot.

The conservative group’s president called the proposal an attempt to stop a “homosexual agenda” in Arkansas.
Jerry Cox, the council’s president, said the group would rely on the same network of activists and church leaders that helped gain approval for a 2004 constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between one man and one woman.

Cox denied that his proposed initiated act was aimed solely at gays and lesbians, but singled them out in a news
conference announcing the petition drive.

The group must submit 61,974 valid signatures to the secretary of state’s office by July 7 to get the measure on the November ballot. Cox said the group’s goal is 100,000 signatures.

“There is an agenda at work in other states around the nation that’s being driven by the homosexual community,” Cox said. “This agenda involves using children who are in foster care and waiting to be adopted, using those children to advance a particular political agenda.

“We don’t believe children should ever be used by a particular group to advance an agenda.”

The proposal would effectively ban gays and lesbians from adopting or fostering children. The state Supreme Court in 2006 struck down a state policy that specifically banned gays and lesbians from becoming foster parents.

Gov. Mike Beebe has said he is opposed to the initiated act because it goes too far with the adoption restriction.
The group marked the launch of its campaign by having a North Little Rock retiree and a Hot Springs minister who have both served as foster parents sign the petitions, the first to do so.

Cox said the group hopes to increase the number of families willing to adopt or serve as foster parents, though its proposal would effectively reduce the pool of homes available to children.

Volunteers will distribute a 24-page booklet on the guidelines for fostering and adopting children in the state.
Cox said the group does not plan to run television or radio ads to promote the initiative before it is approved for the ballot. The group has raised $16,505.15 for its campaign, according to a report filed with the state Ethics Commission.

The council is simultaneously raising money to campaign against another proposed ballot measure, which would create a lottery to fund college scholarships. Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is gathering signatures to place his proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

The council, which has opposed any expansion of gambling in the state, has raised $1,405 for its campaign against the lottery. Halter has raised $119,631 total for his lottery campaign.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 1, 2008

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