In Arkansas, like other states like my home state of Florida, unmarried couples – including same-sex couples, whose relationships are not legally recognized in the state – are prohibited from adopting children.
At least, they were until Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza overturned the law last week.
In a two-page ruling, the judge struck down the ban, noting that people in relationships (but not legally married) were forced to choose between adopting children in need, and sustaining their unrecognized relationship. He further stated that the ban cast “an unreasonably broad net” and didn’t serve a reasonable interest to the state of Arkansas.
Here’s what His Honor had to say, in his own words:
“Due process and equal protection are not hollow words without substance. … They are rights enumerated in our constitution that must not be construed in such a way as to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people.”
Props to the American Civil Liberties Union for bringing this case to court. The ACLU argued that an average of 1,600 children are waiting for adoption in Arkansas at any given time, and that there’s no good justification for excluding otherwise qualified families from giving children a loving home.
Here’s hoping this is a blueprint for overturning similar bans in other states around the country.