December 19, 2005

CONTACT: Rita Sklar, (501) 374–2660; Chris Hampton, (212) 549-2673

LITTLE ROCK – Joined by an array of national child advocacy organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a brief today asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to uphold an earlier court decision striking down a state regulation that banned gay people and anyone living in a household with a gay adult from being foster parents in the state. The trial court had found that living with gay or lesbian parents doesn’t harm children.

“This anti-gay foster parenting ban goes against the recommendation of every major children’s health and welfare organization in the country,” said Rita Sklar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “These experts understand all too well how this policy hurts the many children in Arkansas in need of safe, stable homes.”

The lawsuit was filed against the state in 1999 on behalf of four prospective foster parents. In addition to today’s brief from the ACLU, several other groups have submitted friend-of-the-court briefs in the case, including the Child Welfare League of America, the National Association of Social Workers and its Arkansas chapter, and the American Psychological Association.

“One thing that the proponents of this policy can’t seem to explain is, ‘How do they expect the state to find homes for the children in Arkansas who need foster care when you diminish the already small pool of potential parents?’” said Rob Woronoff, a program manager with the Child Welfare League of America. “Policymakers should heed the advice of the child welfare professionals who know that the best way to meet the needs of foster children is to assess all prospective parents on a case-by-case basis.”

Four friend-of-the-court briefs, representing a broad range of support for ending the foster care ban, were filed today in support of the ACLU’s lawsuit. These included:

  • A brief signed by the Child Welfare League of America and the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute explaining how all major child welfare organizations oppose categorical bans like the one in Arkansas because they deprive children of qualified caregivers.
  • A brief signed by the American Psychological Association, the Arkansas Psychological Association, and the National Association of Social Workers and its Arkansas chapter detailing over two decades of social science research showing that gay people are equally capable parents who raise healthy children and that these facts are well-established and accepted in the scientific community.
  • A brief from an assortment of Arkansas law professors and religious leaders explaining that basing government discrimination against a group of people on nothing but moral disapproval is not a legitimate basis for the government to disadvantage a group and that different religious groups have diverse moral views about lesbian and gay people.
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