Waldlaw Blog

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Arkansas Rules in Favor of Gay Foster Parents!

Kudos to the ACLU -- and to the Arkansas Supreme Court! http://www.365gay.com/Newscon06/06/062906arkansas.htm (Little Rock, Arkansas) The Arkansas Supreme on Thursday upheld a lower court ruling that it is unconstitutional to bar gays and lesbians from becoming foster parents. The justices rejected an appeal from the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services which had argued children would suffer under the care of gays or lesbians. "There is no correlation between the health, welfare and safety of foster children and the blanket exclusion of any individual who is a homosexual or who resides in a household with a homosexual," Associate Justice Donald Corbin wrote in the opinion. The state Child Welfare Agency Review Board in March 1999 imposed the ban on placing foster children in households with gay adults in what it called an effort to protect children from disease, violence, sexual abuse, neglect and instability. A challenge was filed that year by the ACLU on behalf of four prospective foster parents. Among them was William Wagner who has been married for 31 years and has a 27-year-old daughter and a 23-year-old son. Although Wagner is a married heterosexual, he was disqualified from serving as a foster parent because his gay son sometimes lives at home. In 2004, Circuit Court Judge Timothy Fox ruled the state Child Welfare Agency Review board had overstepped its authority by trying to regulate "public morality.'' Fox said that the Arkansas Legislature gave the child-welfare board the power to "promote the health, safety and welfare of children,'' and that the ban does not accomplish that. He also found that being raised by gay parents doesn't increase the risk of psychological, behavioral, or academic problems for children and that children of lesbian and gay parents are just as well adjusted as children of straight parents. The state then appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.


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