STATEMENT FROM THE NCCJ
In light of the recent Arkansas Supreme Court decision striking down a ban on qualified gay and lesbian individuals being able to serve as foster parents, it is disheartening that so many elected officials and candidates for statewide office from both parties have said they will work to pass a law re-instituting the same ban.
Opponents of gays and lesbians serving as foster parents are working from a position of prejudice and purposeful lack of knowledge or understanding. There is simply no credible evidence that children who are otherwise cared for and loved are damaged by the sexual orientation of their parents. Despite lack of evidence of harm, many Arkansas public officials would completely exclude gay and lesbian citizens from the pool of potential foster parents. They are willing to pronounce gays and lesbians, by definition, unfit parents. This is discrimination, pure and simple. While this is terribly sad for otherwise qualified gays and lesbians who want to help children in need, it is truly tragic for the children. Children are not put at risk by being placed in homes with caring, stable adults—straight or gay—who are willing and able to provide for their emotional and physical needs. Why would we deprive any child of the possibility of a loving home?
The NCCJ of Arkansas asks all public officials and candidates for office to carefully and truthfully examine their motives in addressing the issue of who is qualified to serve as a foster parent. Let us work together to establish qualifications for foster parents that really protect children rather than just reinforce prejudice.
Ruth D. Shepherd
NCCJ of Arkansas