happening. Sometimes we act to show our thanks or support. The New
York Times has greatly increased its meaningful coverage of LGBT
issues, especially family issues, over the last few years.
The Best Interests
of the Child
Published: January 5, 2009
W.H., an infant, was reportedly removed from her parents by
Arkansas’s Department of Human Services after she was taken to a
hospital with injuries that strongly suggested abuse. Fortunately
for W.H., her grandmother, a registered nurse, was eager to take
her in. But there was a hitch. Her grandmother lives with another
woman, and a ballot initiative recently passed in Arkansas makes it
illegal for gay and unmarried heterosexual couples to adopt or
become foster parents. Arkansas courts should strike down this
offensive new law.
Arkansas has a long tradition of allowing child welfare
professionals to decide who should become a foster or adoptive
parent. Anti-gay forces, however, have campaigned to disqualify gay
people. In 2006, the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down a
regulation barring gay people from becoming foster parents.
Last year anti-gay activists promoted Act 1, a ballot referendum
that broadened the ban to include unmarried heterosexual couples.
In November, it passed with about 57 percent of the vote. The
A.C.L.U. of Arkansas is challenging the new law, on behalf of a
group of would-be parents and children, contending that it
discriminates against gay and unmarried straight couples and that
it makes it impossible to place children in the best homes.
The new law is undeniably discriminatory. Under Arkansas law,
people convicted of major crimes, including contributing to the
delinquency of a minor, remain eligible to adopt children or become
foster parents. Single people who have no partner — or who have a
large number of casual sex partners — are also eligible. Anyone
who is in a committed relationship, gay or straight, but is not
married is automatically barred.
The new law also interferes with the Department of Human
Services’ ability to do its job of making individualized
assessments of prospective parents and placing children in the
homes that are best able to meet their needs. As the W.H. case
suggests, an unmarried couple could be the most qualified parents.
And because of the shortage of foster parents, the ban is very
likely to make children wait substantially longer for a loving
Arkansas’s new law was a victory for the forces of bigotry and a
major setback for the guiding principle of the law in adoption and
foster care: the best interests of the child.
Tell the Times What YOU Think About Their
Media outlets, like politicians, appreciate positive feedback. A
simple letter-to-the-editor takes just a few minutes to write and
submit, and with the ups and downs our community has recently
faced, we should take care to write in anger as much as we write in
To submit a letter to the New York Times, follow these
guidelines from their letter submission page:
Letters for publication should be no longer than 150 words,
must refer to an article that has appeared within the last seven
days, and must include the writer’s address and phone numbers. No
Send a letter to the editor by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or faxing
You may also mail your letter to:
Letters to the Editor
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018
A sample letter might go something like this:
To the Editor:
As a gay, adoptive parent living in the South, I know firsthand
how the Arkansas ban is damaging to families. My children will be
my children nonetheless, but that’s easier for me to know and
understand as an adult than it is for them. On Election Night, when
we should have been celebrating Barack Obama’s win, my
twelve-year-old asked, “What happens if they do the same thing in
our state?” Striking fear into the hearts of children for political
gain is un-American. We should be celebrating and supporting all
families, not dabbling in the politics of the past.