by Max Brantley
The ACLU is looking for families who've been adversely affected by Act 1, the initiative aimed at keeping children out of homes with gay people, but which harms straight people, too. The news release says that telling these stories is a way to fight back. I presume it is also a way to locate people who might be interested in a legal challenge.
The ACLU also has put together a list of questions and answers about the impact of the law, which takes effect in 2009.
LITTLE ROCK – The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas announced today that it is looking to talk with families that will be affected by a new law that bans unmarried couples from adopting or fostering children.
“We’ve already heard from many people who are frightened and worried about how Act 1 might hurt their families, and we want to hear from more,” said Rita Sklar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “Even though this harmful and wrongheaded law passed, it’s never too late to stand up and fight back, and telling your own personal story is the best way to start.”
Act 1, which is set to go into effect at the beginning of 2009, bans any unmarried person who lives with his or her partner from fostering or adopting children. There are no exceptions for blood relatives, for people who the children’s biological parents want to care for their children if they no longer can do so, or for people that child placement professionals believe could provide the best possible home for a particular child.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re straight or gay – this law will take away many people’s ability to choose who they want their children to live with if something happens to them,” said Holly Dickson, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Arkansas. “If your mother lives with her boyfriend instead of marrying him because she doesn’t want to lose her pension, for example, she won’t be able to foster or adopt your children if you die unexpectedly – it doesn’t matter if it’s in your will, doesn’t matter if there’s no other blood relative available to take them. There are all kinds of families affected by this law, and we want to be sure we hear from them all."
Many categories of families will be affected, according to the ACLU, which is looking for:
• Families who may be forced to have current foster children leave their home.
• Any parent who, in the event of an emergency, wants his or her children to be adopted by a friend or family member who is unmarried and living with his or her partner.
• Children in state care who need foster or adoptive homes.
• Friends and family willing and able to take care of children who need a good home but are now ineligible to foster or adopt under the new law.
• Families who want to adopt or foster children but can’t due to the law.
The ACLU is asking anyone in Arkansas worried that they will be hurt by Act 1 to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (212) 519-7835 by December 10, 2008, if possible.
The ACLU also has answers to frequently-asked questions about the ban at http://www.acluarkansas.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=95&Itemid=1.