- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 1, 2006

After the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that homosexuals can be foster parents, Gov. Mike Huckabee urged state lawmakers to consider writing a law banning the practice.

“I’m very disappointed that the court seems more interested in what’s good for gay couples than what’s good for children needing foster care,” Mr. Huckabee, a Republican, said last week through spokeswoman Alice Stewart.

The Arkansas high court on Thursday upheld a lower-court decision that threw out a 1999 state Child Welfare Agency Review Board ban on homosexuals as foster parents. Four persons sued the state over the board’s policy.

In its unanimous ruling, the high court said the ban on homosexuals was “an attempt to legislate for the General Assembly with respect to public morality.”

“There is no correlation between the health, welfare and safety of foster children and the blanket exclusion of any individual who is a homosexual or resides in the household with a homosexual,” the court said.

The ruling left open the prospect for legislators to enact a ban on homosexual foster parenting or to give the state board authority to do so.

Last year, the state House passed a measure prohibiting homosexuals from being foster parents, but the bill died in the Senate. Jerry Cox of the Arkansas Family Council said last week that his group would continue to push for such a ban.

However, Rita Sklar, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Arkansas, which brought the lawsuit, said a ban would be difficult to pass with the new ruling.

Most states accept homosexuals as foster parents, especially if they apply as individuals or do not discuss their sexuality. An exception is Nebraska, which appears to have a policy of not allowing homosexuals to be foster parents, said the Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual-rights advocacy group.

Missouri also has refrained from placing foster children with homosexuals, saying case law didn’t support such placements. But this year, a lesbian couple sued and won court approval for the right to train as foster parents.

Still, concerns persist about how children fare when they are raised by homosexual parents. In recent years, lawmakers in Iowa, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia have considered bills blocking homosexuals from becoming foster parents or adopting. This year, Arizona lawmakers tried a different approach — crafting an adoption bill that would give preference to married couples — but the bill was defeated.

Earlier this year, Catholic Charities of Boston said it no longer would offer adoption services because it could not place children with homosexuals, as required by state nondiscrimination policy. It ended its adoption services Friday because of “irreconcilable” differences between its religious beliefs and state law, the Rev. J. Bryan Hehir told the Boston Globe.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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