Let us pray and bash gays -- UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Let us pray and bash gays -- UPDATE

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Yes, it's the final day for silliness and here's this year's prayer bill by Rep. Eric Harris. No school official shall interfere with student-initiated prayer at any school event, beginning, of course, with athletic events. God needs to know which side She's going to choose to win.

There is an exception for free exercise of religion that causes a disruption in school. I guess that would be if a Muslim got hold of the PA and tried to offered an Islamic prayer in Springdale.

I've been searching for the gay foster parent bill, or other legislation to marginalize gay people, but haven't found it yet. I don't expect to be disappointed, however.

UPDATE: It's in and it's SB 959 by, who else, the malevolent Shawn Womack, friend of payday lenders and other lower life forms.

It would ban all adoptions and foster parenting by gays and lesbians, even if they were related to the children. It would  llimit adoption and foster parenting by cohabiting heterosexuals, unless they were related to the child in question, in which case, sin away and adopt at will.

The ACLU has plenty to say about this on the jump. There is so much to say, but "sad" covers most of the ground. It's a bill that addresses no demonstrated need, that will have demonstrated ill consequences and plays to fear and prejudice. Perfect for an Arkansas Republican, clearly. Will majority Democrats follow along? I'm afraid I know the answer.

Gov. Beebe won't be providing any moral courage here. "He will review the bill," said spokesman Matt DeCample. "If the bill comes to his desk and he believes it will pass constitutional muster, he will sign it."

Not all constitutional bills are worthy of signing, of course. But it takes a Bill Clinton to draw a line that even the most political of creatures won't cross -- be it on gun control, abortion or even some limited compassion for gay people. It didn't keep him from serving two terms as U.S. president. But Arkansas legislators and most other governors aren't cut from the same sturdy cloth. Too bad.

Does Mike Beebe personally believe it's acceptable for gay people to adopt children? And if he doesn't, does he think maybe the state should take steps to seize those already adopted by these evil people? I've asked the questions.

Which side are you on, Mike?

UPDATE: Reader analysis over night provides some good commentary on Womack's gay-bashing bill. Like, what is a homosexual, exactly? From a lawyer:

First, since when is cohabitating defined as residing together + sex?   Second, the Honorable Senator didn't define homosexual.  Is a one-time event back in the frat house enough to ban someone from adopting or must they be a card-carrying member and wave the rainbow flag?  I'm sure the good Senator knows 'em when he sees 'em.

Finally (and this is the one that really irks me to no end), who is he to say I can't adopt my nephew if God forbid both my brother and sister-in-law passed away?

ACLU NEWS RELEASE

LITTLE ROCK, AR – The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas today firmly denounced a bill introduced to the Arkansas State Legislature that would ban gay people and most unmarried heterosexual couples who live together from adopting or serving as foster parents. The bill was introduced today, just months after the state supreme court unanimously struck down a ban on fostering by gay people.

 

“This bill flies in the face of what all respected child welfare organizations, social scientists, and Arkansans themselves know about what’s best for the children in our foster care system,” said Jim Harper, L.C.S.W., L.M.F.T., a Little Rock social worker who works with abused children and their families. “Foster care and adoptive placements should be made after careful, individualized screening of each potential parent, regardless of who he or she is. A blanket exclusion of any group of people that might be able to provide loving, stable homes when we have so many children in need of homes in our state foster care system is unconscionable.”

 

SB 959, introduced today by Shawn Womack (R-Mountain Home), would categorically ban lesbian and gay Arkansans from adopting or serving as foster parents, even if they’re relatives of the children in question.  It would also ban unmarried heterosexual couples who live together unless they’re related to the child, which could prevent godparents or family friends from caring for a child if the parents die or can’t keep the child. 

 

“SB 959 is a heavy-handed and ill-conceived attempt to do an end run around the Arkansas Supreme Court, which has already struck down a regulation that didn’t even go as far as this bill does,” said Rita Sklar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arkansas.  “The proponents of this bill only care about singling out gay people and unmarried couples at the expense of children in need of good homes.  They don’t care if an applicant is the child’s aunt or uncle, if that applicant has already been caring for the child or has a strong bond with the child – that child will be denied the comfort of that home if the applicant is gay.”

 

Arkansas’s Child Welfare Agency Review Board had established a policy in 1999 that banned gay people from serving as foster parents, and the Arkansas Supreme Court struck it down after a seven-year legal battle between the state and the ACLU.  Several prominent child welfare groups took an interest in the case, with friend-of-the-court briefs being submitted by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, the Child Welfare League of America, the National Association of Social Workers and its Arkansas chapter, the American Psychological Association and its Arkansas chapter, and the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.  These groups urged the court to strike down the exclusion because it worked against the best interests of foster children.

 

In overturning the earlier ban, the Arkansas Supreme Court wrote, “(T)he driving force behind adoption of the regulation was not to promote the health, safety, and welfare of foster children, but rather based upon the Board’s view of morality and its bias against homosexuals.” 

 

The individualized assessments of potential adoptive or foster parents favored by child welfare organizations and social scientists are supported by most Arkansans as well.  According to a 2005 poll conducted by the University of Arkansas, nearly two thirds of the respondents favored allowing placements with gay people if they pass the screening requirements that apply to everyone else.

 

More information on the ACLU case that overturned the earlier ban can be found online at http://www.aclu.org/lgbt/parenting/12137res20050301.html.

 

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