Thursday, December 4, 2008

Arkansas Would Rather No Parents for Needy Kids Than Equal Rights for Same-Sex Couples

The right to wed is not the only civil right under attack for lesbian and gay couples in these United States. While all eyes have been turned towards California, the right of lesbian and gay couples to parent adopted or foster children has suffered a major setback:
Arkansas residents recently voted to ban people who are "cohabitating outside of a valid marriage," as Shelley and Ross do, from being foster parents or adopting children as these women did.

The measure was written to prohibit straight and gay people who are living together from adopting or becoming foster parents, but its real objective, child welfare experts say, is to bar same-sex couples like Shelley and Ross, 52, from raising children—even if it means youngsters who desperately need families will wait longer.
This vote to keep same-sex couples from becoming parents is hateful, and it hurts children as much as it does the couples whose basic rights it revokes. Susan Hoffpauir, the president of the Arkansas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, lamented in the pages of the Chicago Tribune, "We don't have enough quality homes as it is, and now we're going to place more restrictions?"

Across the country, similar laws aimed at keeping lesbian and gays from becoming parents are threatening the wellbeing of children in need of loving homes and robbing same-sex couples of an equal status in the United States. Utah only permits straight married couples to adopt, while North Dakota allows child placement agencies to "rule out prospective adoptive parents based on religious or moral objection."

One state, however, is working to reverse its bigoted and harmful laws: a Florida judge ruled last week against a law that had previously baned adoptions by lesbians or gays.

For those still unconvinced, the Tribune article also frames the issue in economic terms:
Some 129,000 U.S. children are in foster care, and the only criteria should be who can best provide a loving, permanent home, according to Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.

In a recent report, the non-partisan group concluded that a national ban on gay adoptions could add $87 million to $130 million to foster care expenditures annually because these children would then be living in other types of institutional care, such as group homes.

"On its face, this [Arkansas] law is just crazy," Pertman said. "I fear what will happen if other states see this as a model."
In answer to this economic incentive for justice, compassion, and equality, one social conservative group that lobbied for the ban on same-sex adoptions argued that better advertising for straight couples willing to become foster or adoptive parents will solve the issue.

We still have so far to go.


Feminist Review said...

I think this is a great example of an issue here race, class, and sexuality intersect. Coalition work, anyone?

habladora said...

I hadn't thought about it that way, but you're right... Yes, let's get to work.

daedalus2u said...

A gay couple married in a state where gay marriage is legal is a couple cohabiting inside a valid marriage.

US Constitution Article. IV. Section. 1.

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

AMENDMENT XIV Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868.
Note: Article I, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of the 14th amendment.
Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

habladora said...

So are we saying that a solution for Arkansas couples would be to go to Massachusetts or Connecticut, get married, and then return home and adopt? I think that the Defense of Marriage Act, "which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages and allows states to do the same" (via), keeps that solution from working - Arkansas has passed a law defining marriage as 'between a man and a woman.' I would agree that it's unconstitutional, but I think (and I'm no lawyer, so correct me if I'm wrong) that as it stands, Arkansas couples would have to permanently move to a state that either permits or recognizes same-sex marriage to be legally considered inside a valid marriage.

daedalus2u said...

habladora, as I read the Constitution, every state has to recognize marriages granted by any state as legal. The Constitution trumps all laws, even federal laws.

I think it would be an open and shut case if it were decided based on the law. I have no illusion that it would be decided based on the law.

habladora said...

Hi, Daedalus - I like your view far better than these petty laws that try to steal citizens' rights. I hope our nation comes around to your way of thinking on this.