Over A Dozen Families Affected By Act 1 Step Forward To File Lawsuit
LITTLE ROCK (Dec. 30) ---The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a lawsuit seeking to strike down a new law that bans any unmarried person who lives with a partner from serving as an adoptive or foster parent in the state of Arkansas.
At a press conference at the Arkansas State Capitol this morning, several of the plaintiffs described how Act 1, which is set to go into effect on January 1, impacts their families and why they decided to be part of the case.
Stephanie Huffman, who already adopted one child from the state in 2004, was one of the plaintiffs who spoke at the press conference. Huffman and her partner of 10 years, Wendy Rickman, want to adopt another child or a pair of siblings through the Department of Children and Family Services, but now can’t because of Act 1.
“The state already knows we’re good enough parents that they placed one child with us before Act 1 passed,” said Huffman. “Who knows how many children are now cut off by this law from loving homes?"
In the lawsuit filed today, the ACLU argues that Act 1 violates the federal and state constitutional rights to equal protection and due process. Participating in the case are 29 adults and children from over a dozen different families, including a grandmother who lives with her same-sex partner of nine years and is the only relative able and willing to adopt her grandchild who is now in Arkansas state care, several married heterosexual couples who have relatives or friends disqualified by Act 1 who they want to adopt their children if they die, and a heterosexual woman who wants to be a foster or adoptive parent but can’t because she lives with her partner of five years. The complaint was filed this morning in Pulaski County Circuit Court.
“Ever since the election, we’ve been hearing from all corners of the state from dozens of families who are panicking about how Act 1 impacts them,” said Rita Sklar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “This law hurts families and children in many ways – it takes away parents’ right to decide for themselves who will adopt their children if they die, it denies the many children in Arkansas state care a chance at the largest possible pool of potential foster and adoptive homes, and denies couples who are living together but unmarried the chance to provide loving homes to children who desperately need them.”
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