FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LITTLE ROCK - - Finding that children are not harmed by living with gay or lesbian parents, an Arkansas court today struck 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 American Civil Liberties Union brought the lawsuit against the state in 1999 on behalf of three prospective foster parents.
"Throughout this case, the state has relied on ugly stereotypes to deny children in the Arkansas foster care system the chance of having the widest possible pool of foster families available to them," said Rita Sklar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arkansas. "We're very pleased that the court saw through these arguments and has recognized that gay and lesbian people can provide homes just as loving and stable as anyone else's."
In his findings, Circuit Court Judge Timothy Fox flatly rejected many of the claims the state had made about gay and lesbian people's suitability as parents. In his decision, Fox wrote: "(Psychology pioneer) Jerome Bruner has suggested that one of the reasons people believe in our system of justice may be as simple as 'our faith that confrontation is a good way to get to the bottom of things.' The 'confrontation' in this case has presented us all with an excellent opportunity to replace ignorance with knowledge and to make an informed decision based on information as opposed to assumption."
Among Judge Fox's findings of fact:
"Throughout the trial we presented a variety of experts who proved that the state's justifications for this ban were nothing but baseless myths about gay people," said Leslie Cooper, a staff attorney with the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. "This is a victory not only for gay families, but for the many children in the Arkansas foster care system who now have a better shot at finding a good home."
After Arkansas's Child Welfare Agency Review Board established a policy in 1999 that "no person may serve as a foster parent if any adult member of that person's household is a homosexual," the ACLU filed a lawsuit in state court challenging the policy on behalf of three Arkansans who are challenging the ban:
Leslie Cooper and James Esseks of the ACLU's Lesbian & Gay Rights Project, Grif Stockley of the ACLU of Arkansas, and cooperating attorneys David Ivers and Emily Sneddon represent the prospective foster parents.
The decision can be read online at: /cpredirect/12447