Ark. Governor Seeks Gay Foster Parent Ban

The Associated Press
Saturday, July 1, 2006; 12:05 AM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Friday he hopes the Legislature considers reimposing a ban on gay foster parents, struck down a day earlier by the state Supreme Court.

"I'm very disappointed that the court seems more interested in what's good for gay couples than what's good for children needing foster care," Huckabee said through his spokeswoman Alice Stewart.

The state Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a lower court decision that threw out a ban on homosexuals serving as foster parents. Four people sued after the policy was put in effect in 1999. The state Child Welfare Board dropped the policy after losing a court fight in 2004.

Arkansas Health and Human Services spokeswoman Julie Munsell said the four who successfully challenged the policy have not applied to be foster parents.

Thursday's court ruling left open the possibility that legislators could enact a ban by law or possibly give a state board authority to do so.

But Rita Sklar, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Arkansas, said the court ruling itself could make legislation difficult to pass. She cited language in the ruling that said there was no connection between homosexuality and a child's welfare.

In the unanimous ruling, the court said testimony in the state's appeal demonstrated that "the driving force behind adoption of the regulations was not to promote the health, safety and welfare of foster children but rather based upon the board's views of morality and its bias against homosexuals."

Being raised by homosexuals doesn't cause academic problems or gender identity problems, as the state had argued, the Supreme Court said.

Huckabee is leaving office in 2007 because of term limits. Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson said he was disappointed by the ruling.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Beebe said Friday he was opposed to allowing gay people to become foster parents. Spokesman Zac Wright said Beebe would supporting passing a ban if it was researched and found to be constitutional.

A Florida ban on adoptions by gays and lesbians was upheld in a federal court and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the ACLU. Utah and Mississippi also restrict gay adoptions.

© 2006 The Associated Press