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Howard v. Arkansas

Status: Closed (Judgment)
Last Update: March 5, 2007

What's at Stake

The ACLU represented four prospective foster parents in a lawsuit that struck down a regulation banning gay people and people in households with gay family members from foster parenting.

After a seven-year court battle by the ACLU, the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down a state regulation that banned gay people and anyone living in a household with a gay adult from being foster parents. The court found that children are not harmed by living with gay or lesbian parents. The ACLU brought the lawsuit against the state in 1999 on behalf of four prospective foster parents. “Throughout the trial we presented a variety of experts who proved that the state’s justifications for this ban were nothing but baseless myths about gay people,” said Leslie Cooper, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project.

Among the court’s findings of fact:

  • Being raised by gay parents doesn’t increase the risk of psychological, behavioral, or academic problems for children.
  • Children of lesbian and gay parents are just as well adjusted as children of straight parents.
  • There is no factual basis for saying that heterosexual parents might be better able to guide children through adolescence than gay parents.
  • There are no reasons that health, safety, or welfare of a foster child might be negatively impacted by living in a foster home where there is a gay person present.
  • The blanket exclusion can hurt children by excluding a pool of effective foster parents.

Status: Victory! On June 29, 2006 the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld an earlier trial court decision overturning the ban.

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