Judge: foster, adoption ban suit can proceed

Posted on 18 Mar 2009 at 2:11pm
By Jon Gambrell Associated Press

State had asked that lawsuit be dismissed without trial

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A judge ordered Tuesday, March 17 that he will allow a challenge to a state ban on unmarried couples adopting children to go to trial.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled from the bench against a motion by the state to dismiss the lawsuit. Piazza said issues raised in the lawsuit need to be argued in court.

The Arkansas attorney general’s office had asked Piazza to dismiss the case outright, saying no one had been directly affected by the ban.

The voter-approved ban, which went into effect Jan. 1, prohibits unmarried couples thast live together from adopting or fostering children. The Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of more than a dozen families seeking to overturn the ban.

The families argue that the act’s language was misleading to voters and that it violates the families’ constitutional rights.

The Arkansas Family Council, the conservative group the brought the measure to voters in November, has acknowledged the prohibition is aimed at gays and lesbians. Earlier this month, Piazza ruled that the Arkansas Family Council could intervene in the lawsuit.

Piazza set aside two weeks starting Dec. 7 to hear the case. The judge said he was most interested in the argument that the unmarried couples are denied constitutionally-guaranteed equal protection under the law.

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