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ACLU of Arkansas Sues Over Adoption Restrictions
By The Associated Press - 12/30/2008 10:41:01 AM
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas says it has filed a lawsuit to strike down a new law banning unmarried couples from becoming foster or adoptive parents.
The group announced Tuesday that it had filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court seeking to overturn Initiated Act 1, which was approved by voters in last month's general election.
The group filed the lawsuit on behalf of 29 adults and children from more than a dozen families, including a grandmother who lives with her same-sex partner of nine years and is the only relative able and willing to adopt her grandchild, who is now in Arkansas' state care.
The group said that plaintiffs include several married, heterosexual couples who say they have relatives or friends who would not be able to adopt their children because of the new law, which takes effect Thursday.
The lawsuit was filed against the state of Arkansas, the attorney general, the Arkansas Department of Human Services and its director, and the Child Welfare Agency Review Board and its chairman.
The Arkansas Family Council, a conservative group that campaigned for the ban, said it was aimed at gay couples but the law will affect heterosexuals and homosexuals equally.
Department of Human Services officials have said they do not expect to have to remove any foster children from their homes when the new law takes effect. The state had already barred cohabiting unmarried couples from becoming foster parents and was in the process of reversing that policy when voters approved the new ban.
The law does not affect any adoptions that were finalized before it takes effect.
The ACLU had represented four plaintiffs in a lawsuit that led the state Supreme Court to overturn the state's ban on gay foster parents in 2006. The Family Council had campaigned for the initiated act in response to that ruling.