GOP governor orders change to Arizona adoption policy
April 23rd, 2015
In October of last year, U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick found that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. And State Attorney General Tom Horne agreed, so Arizona did not appeal the decision and marriage equality came to the state.
As part of the new legality of same-sex couples, state adoption agencies began to treat all married couples equally.
But in January a new Attorney General was installed and Mark Brnovich decided that just because same-sex couples could wed didn’t mean you couldn’t still discriminate against them in adoption. So he advised the Department of Child Safety to reinstate policies that barred gay married couples from adopting or being joint foster parents.
But no one told the Governor. And he’s pissed. (Tuscon.com)
Gubernatorial press aide Daniel Scarpinato said Ducey only learned of Flanagan’s policy change on Wednesday. Ducey was clearly unhappy with both the policy and having to learn about it after an inquiry from a reporter.
“I have made it abundantly clear since day one that my administration is unambiguously and unapologetically pro-adoption,” the governor said in his prepared statement.
“With 17,000 children under the state’s care, we need more adoption in Arizona, not less,” Ducey continued. “That ís why I feel strongly, as I have said many times before, that all loving families should be able to serve as foster parents and adopt.”
The governor ordered DCS “to immediately ensure that all legally married couples in Arizona are able to jointly serve as foster parents and adopt.”
This is the second time this month that Ducey has had to slap down anti-gay adoption efforts.
The first came earlier this month when he vetoed legislation that would have allowed county attorneys to refuse to help with adoptions.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who sought the change, said it was simply to get rid of a state mandate and allow his lawyers to focus on higher priorities. But it later became public that Montgomery had refused to help a gay couple complete an adoption.
Austria approves couple adoption
January 14th, 2015
Austria’s Constitutional Court has ruled that gay couples have the same right as heterosexuals to adopt children.
Before the decision Wednesday, gay partners could adopt a child only if one of them was the child’s biological parent.
Explaining the decision, chief judge Gerhart Holzinger says there is “no objective argument for a differing rule based solely on sexual orientation” of the parents.
(and for us poor Americans with no sense of global geography, Austria is the birthplace of the Governator, not Pricilla, Queen of the Desert)
Northern Ireland allows adoption
December 14th, 2013
The court ruling came earlier in the year, but now the courts have rejected an appeal by the Health Minister.
In June, the Court of Appeal ruled that the ban based on relationship status was held to discriminate against those in civil partnerships and to breach their human rights.
Northern Ireland was the only part of the United Kingdom where that policy existed.
Now, the law in Northern Ireland is in line with the rest of the UK.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “Following the Court of Appeal judgement in June 2013, unmarried couples, including same sex couples, and those in a civil partnership may apply to adopt.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that is not in the process of instituting same-sex marriage.
Russia allows foreign adoption only by Italians
November 30th, 2013
It appears that the Russian government’s children’s rights minister, Pavel Astakhov, has determined that Italy is the only nation that meets Russia’s qualifications to allow Russian children to be adopted. (rbth)
“It turns out that Italy is currently the only country whose citizens are able to adopt Russian children because, first of all, this country refused to recognize same-sex marriage, which, for its part, does not require Russia to change the existing agreement, and, secondly, they [the Italians] abide by the terms of this treaty. That is all,” Astakhov said.
Russian legislators recently banned heterosexual parents living in countries where same-sex marriage is legal from adopting their precious baby Russians. This appears to be expanded, de facto, to any nation that offers any measure of equality or dignity to their gay citizens. Italy does not.
But if Russian children go without families, don’t point at them.
“It is not our fault. You [foreign partners] should work harder if you want international adoption to continue. Our priorities differ from yours. We generally prioritize the adoption of children inside the country,” he said.
Although this sounds too wacky to be anything but a spoof, it comes from Russia Beyond the Headlines, a Russian state-owned newspaper.
Michigan marriage challenge update
September 7th, 2012
A lesbian couple, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, sued the state of Michigan over its adoption laws. Their lawyer explains: (Detroit Free Press)
One of their lawyers, Dana Nessel, pointed out that the state of Michigan certified DeBoer and Rowse to become foster parents together but won’t allow them to both adopt. Michigan law only allows singles or married couples to adopt.
“The state gave them children who had been abandoned and surrendered at birth to raise,” Nessel said. “And they are raising them with all the love, nurturing, care and affection that any parent would give to any child. But the state then rewards these women by telling them while they are good enough to foster as a couple, they aren’t good enough to adopt as a couple. We submit that this is pure and utter insanity.”
But the judge in the case surprised them by noting that they were fighting the wrong battle. Their issues would be over if they married and it’s really the marriage ban that is causing them to be subjected to discrimination.
Personally, I get that. I can see how a state could argue that if a couple was unwilling to make the legal commitments binding themselves together that they were not ideal to jointly adopt children. But it can’t then turn around and refuse to let the couple make such legal commitments.
So April and Jayne have updated their petition.
DeBoer and partner Jayne Rowse decided to take the battle they’re already fighting in U.S. District Court in Detroit one step further today. They amended their complaint in front of Judge Bernard A. Friedman that asks for the right to adopt as a same-sex couple, instead challenging Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette and Oakland County Clerk Bill Bullard Jr. to declare Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage and partnerships unconstitutional.
“This is totally not what we expected by any means,” Rowse said today, away from the podium during an announcement in the Penobscot Building. “We wanted to keep the kids’ rights at the forefront, the rights that any other child has.”
Lesbian couple suing for adoption rights are told that they have the wrong issue
August 29th, 2012
April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, both nurses, have three children: (Detroit News)
DeBoer adopted a girl, born in February 2010 to a 19-year-old mother.
Rowse, meanwhile, adopted two boys, ages 3 and 2. One was surrendered by his biological mother and the other was abandoned by his mother, a drug-addicted prostitute
But Michigan state law will not allow them to adopt the children jointly, thus giving the children the extra rights and security that come from two-parent adoption (which are considerable). They asked U.S. District Court Judge Bernard A. Friedman, a 68 year-old Reagan appointee, to overturn the state’s law as unconstitutional.
He said, “no”. Or, at least, “not yet”. Because they really were focusing on the wrong issue:
Friedman said Wednesday he’d consider arguments from both sides before rendering his decision, but will first allow the plaintiffs ten days to consider amending their complaint to include a challenge to the state’s ban on same-sex marriages.
“That’s the underlying issue,” Friedman told attorneys, noting that he’s “not suggesting they do it.”
“Both arguments are about marriage and how broad or narrow it should be. That’s the bottom line.”
Oh. Well, come to think of it, that would be the real issue, wouldn’t it?
Of course, just because Judge Friedman correctly noted the real discrimination issue doesn’t mean that he will find the ban unconstitutional. But it does suggest that he correctly understands DeBoer and Rowse’s underlying problem. So I think it is at least likely that he’s sympathetic to giving the marriage issue a fair hearing. And we seldom need more than a fair hearing to point out the obvious.
How very fascinating it would be for DeBoer and Rowse to sue for adoption rights only to find that they’ve overturned the state’s marriage ban.
Again anti-gays blindly and gleefully shoot themselves in the foot
February 9th, 2012
Anti-gay activists in Virginia are dancing with delight. They stood up to Teh HomoSEXshull Agenduh and showed them librulls that they don’t cotton to Teh Ghey so much in the Old Dominion State. The Virginia Senate Republicans, who have a strong majority in that red red state, just passed a bill allowing adoption agencies to deny access to gay couples or individuals on religious grounds.
Except, of course, they couldn’t just say “No gays! We hate ’em” so they couched their bill in language of “religious freedom”. And in their arrogance, they never stopped to consider how else this bill could be used. Look at the wording:
No private child-placing agency shall be required to consider or consent to any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would conflict with the religious tenets of any sponsor of the agency or other organization or institution with which the child-placing agency is affiliated or associated. The Commissioner shall not deny an application for an initial license or renewal of a license or revoke the license of a private child-placing agency solely on the grounds that the agency has refused to consider or consent to any placement of a child for foster care or adoption in such cases. Refusal of a private child-placing agency to consider or consent to any placement of a child pursuant to this section shall not form the basis of any claim for damages. [emphasis added]
Now I’m sure that all those good ol’ Southern Baptist boys thought that this gave them the power to discriminate. It did. And further more, with the people’s money. Praise Jesus*
But it also empowered others to find that certain cultural views are repressive and dangerous to children and that their faith prohibits the exposure of children to that element. For example, Quakers may find that military families are unfit based on their religious beliefs. Atheists affiliated with an established freethinkers organization could point to the tenets of their organization and decide that church goers rely on superstition and bronze age notions that hinder a child’s development. And we know that Mormons will be automatically disqualified from most taxpayer-funded but church-administered adoption or fostering programs.
The funny thing about religious beliefs is that everyone has them. Some firmly believe in a structured and pageanted theology, some firmly believe that deities are nonsense, and some believe they have no idea and couldn’t care less. And no matter what you believe, there’s a church or organization for you. If your entire faith system consists of nothing more than “I hate those people over there”, I promise you that you can find others who agree and who will happily join together, form a church, and say that God told them so.
Only a pack of fools would look at that reality and decide that the widely ranging, vastly differing, and often irrational beliefs and rules about a subject which is, by its very nature, unknowable is the basis on which adoption and fostering policy would be based.
And let’s be real. Who works in the child advocacy field, anyway? Sure, there are a few good family-first quote Leviticus fire-brands, but it’s mostly a bunch of bleeding heart liberals. And you know, you just know, that the real losers in this deal are going to be the idiots who just voted for the thing.
* (The risen and gone to Heaven with nothing left to say about it Jesus, that is. Not the Love your Neighbor Jesus; he said things that are embarrassing and we try not to quote him too much).
The Outrageous Immorality of the Anti-gay Movement
January 4th, 2012
I’m a dope, a patsy, a dupe. Or at least tragically naive: Somehow, it seems, I’m once again surprised by the unabashed dishonesty of our worst anti-gay opponents.
This time it’s Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons of NARTH, writing a long piece about same-sex adoption. It has a small section titled, “The children do suffer,” with this opening:
There are strong indications that children raised by same sex couples fare less well than children raised in stable homes with a mother and a father.
He brings up two studies to support this, one of them by Seton Hall professor Dr. Theodora Sirota, and then regretfully tells us:
Not surprisingly, there are scholars who oppose this weighty evidence.
I know something that might surprise Fitzgibbons: One of those opposing scholars is — have you guessed? — Seton Hall professor Dr. Theodora Sirota, the source of his weighty evidence.
Actually, I take that back. Fitzgibbons won’t be surprised at all, because Sirota has already written to him, complaining that he has “mis-reported and misrepresented the results of my 2009 research in this blog.” Not surprisingly, Fitzgibbons has yet to correct his article.
I know this because Dr. Sirota (whom I’ve never met) contacted me herself yesterday, asking for help in exposing what he’s done.
You can read the full text of Sirota’s message here, but let me put it in a nutshell. To support his denunciation of same-sex adoption, Fitzgibbons offers this summary of Sirota’s research:
Researchers interviewed 68 women with gay or bisexual fathers and 68 women with heterosexual fathers. The women (average age 29 in both groups) with gay or bisexual fathers had difficulty with adult attachment issues in three areas: they were less comfortable with closeness and intimacy; they were less able to trust and depend on others; and they experienced more anxiety in relationships compared to the women raised by heterosexual fathers.
The problem is not with what Fitzgibbons said; it’s what he left out: The gay and bisexual fathers in Sirota’s study were married to the mothers.
Dr. Sirota’s article is about the impact of a homosexual father raising a girl in a heterosexual marriage. It has nothing to do with same-sex couples, nothing to do with same-sex adoption at all.
You’d never know that from Fitzgibbon’s piece, and that makes his piece a lie. This kind of sin-by-omission is nothing new; we’ve seen it from far more reputable scholars than this NARTHer. Here, though, we have the original researcher explaining why this is an abuse of her research and asking us for help.
Dr. Sirota’s explanation is crucial. Her data suggest the daughters’ issues were related not so much to their fathers’ sexuality, but to factors like “divorce, maternal anger/bitterness, father absence, etc.” In other words (my words, not Sirota’s), pretty much the results you’d expect when a gay man tries to follow the anti-gay advice of “choosing” to be “straight.”
That’s a provocative finding. In fact, it’s the opposite of what Fitzgibbons is trying to establish. Our opponents claim their concern is all about the kids, but how do they reconcile that with these other things they tell us:
- Bans on same-sex marriage don’t discriminate because gays can marry a member of the opposite sex, just like anyone else (recently heard from Michele Bachmann).
- The purpose of marriage is procreation.
And yet kids are hurt when gay men live by this philosophy. Given our opponents’ pure and unselfish regard for children, I eagerly await their loud and public reversal of what they’ve pushed on us for long.
So let’s do a quick recap:
- Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons presents himself as a science-based mental-health professional.
- He distorts another scholar’s work to advance his agenda.
- This scholar points out the distortion.
- Fitzgibbons fails to correct the distortion.
Two points present themselves, one minor and one major.
First (and this is the minor one), every time our opponents unrepentantly twist someone’s research, they admit they have no honest case. Always point this out — always.
More important, though, is the outrageous immorality of Fitzgibbon’s work. And there’s plenty of outrage for plenty of people: For Dr. Sirota, whose research has been abused. For same-sex parents, who’ve been libeled by that abuse. And, most of all, for Fitzgibbons’ own loyal readers, who are counting on him for the truth.
This is a moral issue, and it’s becoming clear we can better advance our cause on the grounds of morality rather than tolerance. When Ted Olson and David Boies made their case against Prop 8, they did so on a moral basis: Same-sex relationships have the same potential for moral value as opposite-sex pairings, and it is a moral wrong to deny us full citizenship and equality. In this effort, Fitzgibbons becomes our ally, a case study in the moral bankruptcy of our extreme opposition.
Dr. Sirota has asked us to help expose this corruption of her work, and it’s the easiest exposure possible, requiring nothing but a simple declaration of truth. Please help her, either by sharing this, or (even better) by using her words to craft a message of your own.
Priorities and perspectives in Illinois
November 16th, 2011
The American Family Association has, unintentionally, the most revelatory article on the final cessation of the foster care program of the Catholic Charities of Illinois. Although the Catholic Church had appealed the state’s decision to allow gay couples to be foster parents, time has run out so they are dropping their appeal.
And so they are ceasing their 90 year old program. Because, unlike 90 years ago, the current Catholic Church is unwilling to fund a foster care program out of their own pocket.
But it is two statements within the article that caught my attention:
Now the state will only be dealing with organizations that are willing to hand children over to homosexuals.
There is something about that which is so bald, so unfiltered, that I caught my breath. The implications are astonishing.
This isn’t about “the best environment for children” or “denying a mom or dad” or any of the other catch phrases. Rather, there is a broadly shared assumption that gay people not only would be harmful to children, just by their being gay, but also that there is some nefarious element involved.
To Charlie Butts and Bob Kellogg, the authors of this article, being homosexual is cause not to have access to children. By default. And, like Catholic Charities, they would never “hand children over” to someone like you or me.
One of my themes in writing here, indeed one of BTB’s underlying themes, is to provide a more nuanced perspective on the views, goals, fears, and concerns of those who oppose our political equality. We don’t often use language such as “bigot” or “hater” here. Not only is it not particularly effective, it often isn’t an accurate portrayal of the motivations, thoughts or intent of those being called bigot and hater.
But there is something about that sentence – presented alone as its own paragraph – that is so full of contempt, so full of animus, that I have a hard time finding any motivation that isn’t based in hatred.
But then at the end of the article I read the words of a Catholic man, words which bring me hope and faith. I also found an irony, a sadness, and a recognition that while his church may have their own priorities, he needn’t follow their lead. Oh, I’m sure that AFA didn’t see it – and, indeed, he may not have seen it – but Gary Huelsmann could not have said it better.
Meanwhile, an organization once known as Catholic Social Services of South Illinois has severed its ties with the diocese in order to comply with the state law. Gary Huelsmann, executive director of the agency, recently told LifeSiteNews that it “boiled down to the Catholic Church needing to stay true to its core beliefs and the agency needing to take care for all of the abused, neglected children.”
But ‘freedom of religion’ means that you have to give me taxpayer money!!
May 27th, 2011
The State of Illinois has changes the way in which it wants one of its programs to operate. One of their contractors doesn’t think that it can operate under the new rules, and so it is not going to apply for further contracts with the state. The policy change is that same-sex couples cannot be excluded from consideration by state-funded adoption agencies, and the contractor is the Rockford Diocese of the Catholic Church.
Yeah, they made good on their threat. And, of course, they are whining and moaning that their “moral stance” actually cost them anything. They seem to believe that when you claim that you are taking a moral stance, then everyone else should cater to you and make exceptions for you. (Beacon-News)
Officials from the Rockford Diocese, which includes Aurora, Kane County and much of Kendall County, said they were forced to terminate state contracts worth $7.5 million after lawmakers failed to pass an amendment exempting religious groups from provisions of the state’s new civil unions law. The law, which will let gay and lesbian couples form civil unions, a rough equivalent to marriage, takes effect on Wednesday.
“The law of our land has always guaranteed its people freedom of religion,” diocese spokeswoman Penny Wiegert said. “Denying this exemption to faith-based agencies leads one to believe that our lawmakers prefer laws that guarantee freedom from religion.”
Yes, they believe that it’s a matter of religious freedom. Of course, they also believe that the Pope should dictate civil policy to “Christian Europe”, so it’s a little difficult to take them seriously when they talk about “religious freedom.”
So now the other 40-odd private agencies (including two other religiously-based groups) will have to pick up the Catholic Church’s 15% of the burden. Or perhaps not even that much if the other three Catholic agencies decide that their faith doesn’t exactly compel them deny orphans a loving adoptive family.
I support you, Catholic Charities…
May 6th, 2011
Now that the state of Illinois is offering civil union recognition to same-sex couples, the Catholic Church has disseminating fears that they will no longer be able to offer foster care or adoption services. They have vowed to be defiant.
And to the Catholic Church in Illinois, I say:
I support you.
I totally agree that if Catholic girls wish to give their children up for adoption and want them to go to Catholic families and be raised in the Catholic faith, then Catholic organizations should be able to facilitate such adoptions. With Catholic dollars.
After all, that is the very meaning of Catholic charity. Catholics sacrificing and contributing for the betterment of others. Bringing Catholic funds to help those in need.
Oh… wait, what’s that? Oh you actually do placement with non-Catholics. Well, that’s even more charitable of you. Peace be with you.
And – sorry, say that again? You disallow unmarried heterosexual couples and all gay couples?
Oh, well I think that is extremely foolish of you and that you are denying a loving family to hard-to-place children. You should really reconsider your values.
But I guess it’s your money. And there are some children being placed that otherwise would not have a family so I’ll defer to your decisions on how best to spend the contributions of your parishioners.
But it’s what? I’m sorry, you mumbled that last part. It’s not what?
Oh, it’s not the money of your parishioners! Oh, so it’s Vatican money? No?
I’m confused. Then who gave you the money to run these programs?
THE STATE??!!?? You mean that the State of Illinois is paying you to run a program that decides foster care and adoption placement based on your own religious criteria? That tax dollars are taken out of the paychecks of gay people and given to you and that you won’t even let them apply?
And the kids AREN’T EVEN CATHOLIC??!!?? They are just kids placed with you by the State????
NO FRIGGEN WAY!!! Why that’s… it’s just… whew whew
Whew… sorry that I got so excited there. I guess I just over-reacted.
Well, there’s the clear and easy solution. The one I’m sure you have already started.
Just pull out your checkbook, Cardinal, and write the state a great big check to pay them back for the fees they’ve given you to administer the state’s foster care and adoption programs. And notify the state that you’ll only be placing kids that are brought to you with the parents’ intention that they be placed according to the teachings of the Church.
And then, praise be to God, you can go back to applying Catholic rules to Catholic kids and everyone is happy.
What do you mean, “NO??”
You don’t intend to repay the State? You don’t intend to only place kids brought to you by their parents for Catholic placement?
Well, F U, Cardinal, you selfish, money-grubbing, pompous bureaucrat.
No, I do NOT support you discriminating against me and my family with MY OWN MONEY.
So kindly take your self-righteous discrimination and shove it.
Oh, and while you’re at it, you may want to consider removing “Charities” from your name. It isn’t charitable if you do it with someone else’s funds.
Two Dads, Twelve Kids in Arizona
May 4th, 2011
The Arizona Republic on Monday profiled the family of Steven and Roger Ham, the two gay dads who are the fathers of twelve children who were adopted from foster care in Arizona, where two men can’t marry or adopt children together. Last month, Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law a bill that gives preferential treatment to married couples in state and private adoptions. Even before that law went into effect, Steven and Roger’s quest to bring these children into their home wasn’t an easy one.
“We had to fight to get them,” Roger says. “We had to fight to get them all,” Steven says.
They started out only wanting one child, but when they saw that there were so many kids in the foster care system needing a home — there are 10,514 children in the state’s care presently — they couldn’t stop at one. And besides, their first adopted child, Michael, had four younger brothers and sisters in foster care that he endlessly worried about. Through much legal wrangling, they finally reunited the children in 2004.
“I immediately fell in love with them,” says Heather Shew-Plummer, the caseworker at Aid to the Adoption of Special Kids in Phoenix who handled the Hams’ first nine adoptions. Up to that point, she had worked with 10 or so same-sex couples.
Shew-Plummer felt Steven and Roger were ideal prospective parents – patient, loving, fun and ceaseless advocates for the kids who would come into their care. But she worried they might face extra obstacles in adopting because they were gay.
“They never tried to hide it, but they never made a big deal out of it, either,” Shew-Plummer says. “They didn’t want to change the world. They just wanted to raise their kids.”
The Hams also served as foster parents for 42 children over ten years. Some stayed for just a few days, while others stayed for months.
Two of the Ham’s children were adopted in Washington state, which allows both parents’ names to appear on the birth certificates. The ten adopted in Arizona are legally Steven’s, because Arizona does not allow same-sex couples to adopt, nor does it allow second-parent adoptions. To cover the legal gaps, the couple have drawn up medical powers of attorney and guardianship papers. But even with that, the ten children adopted in Arizona are not entitled to health and Social Security benefits, inheritance rights or, if the parents were to split up, child support from Roger.
And yet the obstacles seem minor compared to the Ham’s determination to care for the children who had such great needs. But it’s not all about the needs. It’s also about the love and support, which is abundant in the Ham household. Sen. Rick Santorum this week denounced adoption and foster parenting by gay couples, saying adoption was a privilege and not a right. The thing is though, I suspect the Hams would agree: it is an enormous privilege, a blessing even. And one that all children deserve, regardless of how their parents are configured.
Rights v. Privileges
May 3rd, 2011
A lesbian woman came up to me and said, ‘why are you denying me my right?’ I said, ‘well, because it’s not a right.’ It’s a privilege that society recognizes because society sees intrinsic value to that relationship over any other relationship.
– Former US Senator Rick Santorum speaking about adoption
Those who seek to institutionalize inequality based on their own biases like to say, “that’s not a right, that’s a privilege.” And implied in this statement (often accompanied by a smirk) is the notion that some people deserve preferential treatment and others deserve lesser treatment and that privileges can be doled out or restricted by whim.
You just aren’t good enough, you see. These are privileges for other people, those deemed worthy.
But besides being juvenile, this response displays a fundamental ignorance of the US Constitution. The clause under which discrimination is addressed is not worded in the way that they assume:
Fourteenth Amendment, Section One
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. [emphasis added]
You see, Senator Frothy Mix, whether adoption is a right of citizens or a privilege of citizenship, it still is protected from arbitrary applicaion. Oh, and by the way, you really are a pompous ass.
(hat tip JMG)
Arkansas Supreme Court Overturns Adoption Ban
April 7th, 2011
The Arkansas Supreme Court today ruled that a voter-approved initiative banning unmarried cohabiting couples, including gay couples, from adopting or serving as foster parents. The court found that because the law singles out cohabiting couples for the ban while allowing single individuals to adopt or foster children, it encroaches on a key right to privacy:
Act 1 directly and substantially burdens the privacy rights of “opposite-sex and same-sex individuals” who engage in private, consensual sexual conduct in the bedroom by foreclosing their eligibility to foster or adopt children, should they choose to cohabit with their sexual partner. The pressure on such couples to live apart, should they wish to foster or adopt children, is clearly significant. In Jegley, the burden perpetrated by the State was criminal prosecution for sodomy, although the act took place in the privacy of the bedroom. In the case before us, the burden dispensed by the State is either to remove the ability to foster or adopt children, should sexual partners live together, or to intrude into the bedroom to assure that cohabitors who adopt or foster are celibate. We conclude that, in this case as in Jegley, the burden is direct and substantial.
In 2002, the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down that state’s sodomy law in the case of Jegley v. Picado, nearly a full year before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws nationwide in Lawrence v. Texas. A state judge struck down Arkansas’ adoption ban last April. The attorney general then appealed to the Supreme Court, which led to today’s ruling.
Because the court found that Act 1 infringes on a key right to privacy, the court determined that heighened scrutiny rather than rational-basis was the appropriate standard for the ruling:
We have held in this case that a fundamental right of privacy is at issue and that the burden imposed by the State is direct and substantial. We now hold, as an additional matter, that because of the direct and substantial burden on a fundamental right, the standard to be applied is heightened scrutiny and not a rational-basis standard. Using the heightened- scrutiny standard, because Act 1 exacts a categorical ban against all cohabiting couples engaged in sexual conduct, we hold that it is not narrowly tailored or the least restrictive means available to serve the State’s compelling interest of protecting the best interest of the child.
Utah and Mississippi are the only states remaining with adoption bans affecting gay people. Utah, like Arkansas until today, bans cohabiting couples from adopting but allows single adults to adopt when married couples aren’t available. Mississippi law allows unmarried and married adults to adopt regardless of cohabitation status, but contains a separate clause stating, “Adoption by couples of the same gender is prohibited.”
A Good Man Tries and Fails
December 16th, 2010
Ron Sider is a prominent evangelical Christian who opposes marriage equality. He doesn’t seem to be a hateful bigot at all. I never sense that he was murmuring perverts, perverts, perverts as he typed his recent article, “Bearing Better Witness.” He’s shown me two things with that piece: First, a reminder that some people who promote discrimination are decent, well-meaning human beings. And second, even their best-intentioned arguments can’t withstand scrutiny.
Sider begins by arguing there are secular reasons for opposing marriage equality:
Even a state such as ours, which does not use the law to promote or discourage particular religious beliefs, nevertheless has a huge stake in marriage. It is not simply a religious issue. The law is a moral teacher. Most people assume that if something is legal, it is moral—or at least not immoral. What is legal soon will become normal.
That’s both untrue and dangerous.
Really, most people would brand something like self-serving deceit as immoral. Even a trivial selfish lie betrays someone’s trust. But while some lies are illegal — fraud, libel, slander, perjury, and the like — most everyday lies are not. Sorry, I got caught in traffic. Or, I wasn’t flirting with him. Or, I don’t know who ate the last piece of pie (that one’s egregious in the extreme!).
In fact, you can create a whole catalog of immoral-but-not-illegal acts: Read the rest of this entry »