Arkansas Court Strikes Down 2008 Initiative Prohibiting Cohabiting Couples from Adopting

An Arkansas trial judge recently struck down a 2008 initiative that prohibited cohabiting adults, not in a legally recognized marriage, from becoming adoptive or foster parents. In Cole v. Arkansas, Judge Christopher C. Piazza ruled that Initiated Act I, An Act Providing that an Individual Who is Cohabiting Outside of a Valid Marriage May Not Adopt or Be a Foster Parent of a Child less than Eighteen Years Old, infringed upon the right to privacy found in the Arkansas Constitution, and that the initiative failed to survive heightened scrutiny due to its over-breadth. While the judge did not expressly hinge his decision on this factor, he asserted that the law targeted homosexual couples, who by virtue of their inability to secure legal marriages in Arkansas, would be unable to adopt. Proponents of Initiated Act I have sharply criticized the ruling and plan to appeal. The progress of case, as well as other challenges to voter-approved initiatives, can be followed at the Miller-Rose Institute Initiative Database.

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