After a non-eventful state agencies committee hearing, I went to the House Judiciary to watch the hearing on Sen. Womack's bill to outlaw adoptions by gay people. For something that so easily passed the entire Senate, it had a lot different reception in the House. Of course Sen. Womack spoke in favor of his bill. The only supporters they chose ( or had) were a marriage counselor from Mt. Home and a confused staff person from the Family Council.
Sen. Womack went on and on how his bill was constitutional because a federal court said a similar bill in Florida was. ( the "Loftin Case") He tried to persuade the committee that last years Howard case would have no effect on his bill whatsoever. As far as I know, Sen Womack is a lawyer. I feel sorry for his clients if he truly believes the his bill is "clearly constitutional." Clear as mud. He wanted to completely ignore the Ark. Sup. Ct. ruling because it involved a state regulation, not an act of the General Assembly. Either he is ignorant of constitutional law or he is, more likely, insincere. The Howard case has everything to do with this issue, but I won't bore you with the details why. Similarly, he wanted the committee to believe that a federal opinion from Florida should overrule what our own Ark. Sup. Ct. found. Arkansas is in the 8th circuit, Florida is in the 11th. He should know that a decision from the 11th circuit is not binding on Arkansas. I just hope he doesn't somehow ever gets in a position where we need to rely on his legal knowledge to defend our state one day.
Womack's chief witness was the marital counselor. He prattled on about some unnamed study in which homosexuals were found to have more depression, anxiety, and suicide than heterosexual people. He thought this was a swell reason to exclude all homosexuals from being foster parents. But, when asked if a celibate non-drinking, successful gay person might be a good adoptive parent, he crumbled. He had to admit, it would be better to look at on a case-by-case basis. Of course that is all most gay people want as to this issue - to be looked at as individuals and if in their individual situation they could provide a good home for a child.
A 9th grader from Central High testified about being raised by a lesbian grandmother. She noted the irony that we are about to celebrate the 50th year since the Central High crisis yet some people in this state still want to oppress certain minority groups.
Sen. Womack tried to get in a few last points but could gain no ground. He floundered when asked about how the State and DHHS would inquire if someone is gay. When asked if one homosexual act makes someone gay - are they gay forever? According to Womack, we would have to rely on people to be honest and confess they consider themselves homosexual Womack admitted that probably the ban would not be applied unless someone challenged a foster parent or adoptive parent's application.
I can see Sen Womack playing the role of McCarthy, asking foster parents to sign anti-homosexual loyalty oaths. I can see him recommending that we ask potential foster parents something like "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the homosexual lifestyle?"
As I was saying earlier, I feel sorry for anyone who has Womack for an attorney. At the morning session, he could not even get one person on the entire committee to ask for a vote on his bill. If he had not found at least one person who even was willing to consider voting on his bill --- I don't see why he wanted to waste the committee's time when he surely didn't have enough votes to pass (11 I think). He tried again this afternoon and got poor Rep. Woods to at least ask for a vote --- but even then, it didn't get a 2nd and therefore no vote. This was a stinging defeat for the zealots and homophobes. On the other hand it was a good day for potentially hundreds of children who in the years to come will be more likely to have an adoptive family.
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