Arkansas's second-in-command post are squabbling over
whether the state supreme court's reversal of a ban on gay
foster parents should be a campaign issue. Republican
lieutenant governor nominee Jim Holt questioned
Tuesday whether his Democratic opponent, Bill Halter,
agrees with the Arkansas supreme court June 29 ruling, while
Halter said he supports reimposing the ban. Also, a
Halter campaign spokesman accused Holt of using the
ruling to advance his political career.
The lieutenant governor hopefuls traded
criticism over the court's ruling, which said the
state cannot bar gay people from becoming foster
parents. Holt targeted comments Halter made days after the
ruling saying he didn't believe it should be used as a
"This controversy is very much a political
issue," Holt said. "This issue will determine what
happens to numerous children who have in most cases
already experienced deep pain.... Halter's position will
reflect his philosophy on other important issues related to
Two years ago Holt was able to win a surprising
44% of the vote in his run against Democrat Blanche
Lincoln. Holt tied his candidacy to a constitutional
amendment banning same-sex marriage, which passed
overwhelmingly that year.
Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a Republican,
has said he hopes lawmakers will reimpose the ban on
gay foster parents but said he doesn't expect to call
a special session on the issue. Huckabee is term-limited
and leaves office in January.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mike Beebe and
Republican nominee Asa Hutchinson have both said they
oppose allowing gays to become foster parents. Holt, a
state senator from Springdale, said Halter has been
quiet on whether the state should reimpose the ban.
Halter on Tuesday said he had talked with
legislators who indicated they would pass such a ban
during the regular legislative session next year. "I
would support this type of legislation if, after thorough
research and deliberation, it is found to be
constitutional and in the best interests of Arkansas's
foster children," Halter said.
Halter last month said he was unsure whether the
state should reimpose the ban and said he wanted to
study the ruling further. "I'd like to not have people
try to use this for any sort of political gain, and let's
get some more data and get the studies that we need," Halter
said. "Let's make sure that we have people work well
together in the future to come up with a response legislatively."
Halter campaign spokesman Bud Jackson accused
Holt of doing little during his time in the senate to
help the state's foster children. Jackson described
Holt's legislative record as "lackluster" and focused
on several of his votes, including his opposition to
increasing the minimum wage.
"Jim Holt has demonstrated that he is willing to
use Arkansas's most vulnerable children as a political
football to advance his own political career," Jackson said.
Holt defended his work as a lawmaker and said he
wasn't satisfied with Halter's stance on the foster
parents ruling. "'If' is a big word, and he has placed
so many conditions on his decision that everyone in
Arkansas can see he is just pandering," Holt said. "There is
not one bit of conviction in his answer." (AP)