With all the attention in California, Arkansas law is too easily ignored.
Much attention has been given to the recently passed Proposition 8 in California; however, little mind has been paid to an even more discriminatory measure passed in Arkansas. The measure, undoubtedly, targeted gay and lesbian couples, but will affect anybody not living in what proponents of the measure consider a "traditional" home.
The bill, titled Act 1, effectively bans those who are cohabitating in a sexual relationship without the "benefit" of marriage from adopting a child or acting as foster parents. The argument presented by advocates of the measure say the bill is necessary to prevent children from being placed in unstable environments or "alternative" living situations.
Aside from being nothing more than legalized discrimination, this bill is misguided, not to mention intrusive into parental rights.
First of all, not all marriages are stable. These people who climbed on their high and mighties to get this bill passed obviously did not take factors like drug and alcohol addiction, spousal and child abuse, or child molestation into account. To take an already troubled child and put them into a situation like the ones mentioned above is only going to further damage. And just because a home appears stable on the outside doesn't mean it is on the inside.
The other assumption this bill makes is that gay people and/or single people can't make good parents. As the child of a gay man, I can attest that this simply is not true. Gay people are just as capable, and in some cases moreso, of providing stability, love and structure than married couples. Also, gay people can actually be stronger in terms of support, since they often have a better understanding of the issues faced by a troubled child.
The final thing that really needs to be addressed is something a lot of people probably didn't realize in their rush to vote "yes" on this measure. This bill supercedes their parental rights to place their own children with whomever they choose if the event they should become incapacitated or should die. It does not matter if you, as the parent, have a will or living trust in place; if the designated person is single or gay, is cohabitating in a sexual relationship outside of marriage, or in another way does not fit the traditional marriage mold, that person cannot have custody of your child, even if that is what YOU wanted.
This measure is such a clear violation of the seperation of church and state, and is nothing more than another example of a group of people trying to impose their morality on the rest of the world. It provides a shining example as to why religion does not belong in politics, and should not be involved in the making of laws.
Hopefully, the Arkansas Supreme Court will see this for what it is; another attempt to legalize discrimination and a limit on personal rights and freedoms, and strike it down.
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