Task Force Denounces Arkansas Foster Care Ban
National Gay And Lesbian Task Force,
January 7, 1999
2320 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
Contact: Tracey Conaty, Communications Director
WASHINGTON, DC -- The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force denounced a
decision to ban gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people in Arkansas from becoming
foster parents. Yesterday, the Child Welfare Agency Review Board passed a resolution that
would make Arkansas the second state to enact such a ban. As worded, the ban would prevent
a child from being placed with anyone who has engaged in same-sex sexual behavior or
anyone sharing a household with someone who has engaged in same-sex sexual behavior. There
is a comment period, which will likely take a number of weeks and will entail five public
hearings, before the ban will take effect.
"This ban is not about the welfare of children, its about attacking and
demonizing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people," said Kerry Lobel,
executive director of the Task Force. "Right-wing extremists are aiming their arsenal
at our families more than ever before. We will face similar battles in a number of states
this year, and we will do everything in our power to face down these lies, distortions,
and myths with the simple truth," added Lobel.
Arkansas would become the third state to ban gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender
people from adopting and/or becoming foster parents. The New Hampshire legislature passed
a law banning both adoption and foster care in late 1980s. Florida passed a law banning
adoption in 1977. Also, in Oklahoma, people convicted under the states sodomy law
are banned from adopting.
According to the Task Force, similar measures are likely to be introduced this year in
at least three other states (IN, TX, MI). Last year, anti-adoption or anti-foster care
measures were introduced in five states (AZ, CA, GA, OK, TN). All of them were defeated.
Both the New Hampshire and Florida laws are currently being contested. In Florida there is
a lawsuit challenging the ban, and yesterday in New Hampshire advocates introduced a bill
(HB 90) that would reverse the law.
"Regulations like this are responsible for robbing thousands of needy children
from loving, nurturing, supportive homes. It is time to listen to the voices of young
people who know that what is important is a good parent, not a parent whose sexual
orientation has been run through a government-sanctioned litmus test," said Felicia
Park-Rogers, Director of the organization Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere and
herself a 27-year old lesbian daughter of a gay man and a lesbian.
The gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community and its allies, including the
Interfaith Alliance for Equality, are organizing to prevent the ban from being enacted.
"There are many serious problems with Arkansas foster care system. Rather than
using time and resources to address them, the state is wasting them on a non-issue,"
said Judy Matsuoka of the Little Rock-based Womens Project, and a coordinator of the
efforts to block the ban.
Many organizations, including the Child Welfare League, the North American Council on
Adoptable Children, and the American Psychological Association oppose the use of sexual
orientation as a criteria in foster care and adoption placement.
Judy Matsuoka of the Womens Project is available at (501) 372-5113 for
information about local efforts to block the ban. Felicia Park Rogers of COLAGE is
available for further comment at (415) 861-5437.
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