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A bill barring gay and straight unmarried couples from adopting or fostering children was advanced by an Arkansas state senate panel Monday. Last year, according to the Associated Press, the state supreme court overturned a ban on gay foster parents that had been established by state policy rather than by law.
Four people have sued the state government after the policy was put into effect in 1999 and then dropped in 2004.
The ban was put in place by the Arkansas Child Welfare Board in March 1999 when it said children should be in a conventional two-parent home because they are more likely to thrive in that environment, the article said.
Gary Wheeler, a Little Rock pediatrician, told lawmakers that there is no evidence in proving the board's statement. "There's been a lot of confusion about who's a homosexual and who's a pedophile. These are two large groups that hardly intersect," Wheeler said in the article.
Gov. Mike Beebe said that he would support the policy if it were proven to be constitutionally sound. The ban would not be enforced against blood relatives who are cohabitation.
Theresa M. Beiner, a University of Arkansas constitutional law professor, said in the article that the law would be struck down as unconstitutional and that the proposal does not legitimately instill the state's interest in protecting children.
"A categorical ban on gay and unmarried couples from being both foster and adoptive parents does not further the interests, welfare, safety or health of children in the state of Arkansas," Beiner said in the article. (The Advocate)