Despite a poll by the University of Arkansas that indicated 55 percent opposition to Act 1, which prohibited adoption and foster parenting by unmarried couples, it was approved by 57 percent of Arkansas voters.
“We don't have the built-in network that the Family Council [the group pushing the act through a network of friendly churches] has,” said Brett Kincaid of Arkansas Families First, a coalition that opposed the act. Jennifer Ferguson, another coalition spokesperson, also suggested that many voters didn't know that the act also will affect straight people, not just the gay people expressly targeted by the Family Council.
Kincaid said the coalition will look at getting the act repealed in the legislature, though getting lawmakers to toss a law approved by such a margin is unlikely. The ACLU of Arkansas is “looking at its options,” director Rita Sklar said; one of those would include a lawsuit.
Some 3,700 children need foster homes, DHS says, but there are only 1,000 eligible foster parents. Some of the children end up in shelters or group homes, others are juggled on a temporary basis between available homes.
“I don't think Arkansans had any idea how many children this is going to harm,” Sklar said.
Jerry Cox, who headed the Family Council's campaign for Act 1, scoffed at the mention of shelters, saying opponents made them sound bad. He said married heterosexuals are the “gold standard” and that's what state law should require.
The story of the year at the legislature will be implementation of the new state lottery.
Will Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who single-handedly put together the drive for the measure, lead the parade? Legislative sources think not. He's not popular among legislators, for one thing. For another, this is a big prize for which to claim authorship and legislators are jealous of their privileges. Just the same, Halter's office reports being flooded with calls from people looking for work setting up and running the new lottery.
There'll be no jobs to offer until the legislature sets up the framework and provides some money to get it started. Given the millions at issue, you won't be surprised to know that major lottery vendors, including GTech and Scientific Games, are already on the scene, scouting out potential lobbyist hires. On the secretary of state's most recent update of lobbyists, however, no lottery vendors appear among the paying clients. That should change soon.