[JURIST] Arkansas Secretary of State [official website] Charlie Daniels has certified a ballot measure [text; AR AG opinion, PDF] which could prohibit gays, lesbians and other unmarried cohabiting couples from becoming either foster or adoptive parents. Daniels announced [press release] Monday that the Arkansas Family Council Action Committee [advocacy website] had submitted petitions containing the valid signatures of more than 85,000 registered voters – nearly 25,000 more than needed to place the measure on the November ballot. The proposed act provides, in part, that
(a) A minor may not be adopted or placed in a foster home if the individual seeking to adopt or to serve as a foster parent is cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of a marriage which is valid under the constitution and laws of this state.
(b) The prohibition of this section applies equally to cohabiting opposite-sex and same-sex individuals.
The measure further stipulates that "it is in the best interest of children in need of adoption or foster care to be reared in homes in which adoptive or foster parents are not cohabiting outside of marriage." The group Arkansas Families First [advocacy website] has announced plans to challenge the ballot measure in court [press release] because of alleged duplications, forgeries and other irregularities in the petitions submitted to Daniels. AP has more.
The ballot measure follows a 2006 Arkansas Supreme Court decision [PDF text] that struck down an administrative regulation [JURIST report] specifically prohibiting homosexuals from rearing foster children. Reacting to that decision, then-Gov. Mike Huckabee suggested that such a ban be implemented through legislation [JURIST report]. Arkansas, like many states, has amended its constitution [PDF text] to prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages [JURIST news archive]. An initiative prohibiting same-sex marriage is on the ballot in California this year despite an attempt to remove it [JURIST reports]. That measure would overcome a California Supreme Court decision [JURIST report] holding that a ban on same-sex marriage violates the state constitution.