Arkansas adoption battle heats up

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Attorney General Dustin McDaniel no longer wants supporters of a new law aimed at banning gays from adopting to join a case challenging the ban.

Earlier this month, McDaniel told The Associated Press he would welcome supporters of the ban who want to join the lawsuit. But last week, his office filed objections to a request by the conservative Arkansas Family Council to intervene.

The council notes in its Jan. 16 request that McDaniel previously opposed the measure to ban unmarried couples living together from adopting or fostering children. The ban went into effect Jan. 1 after voters approved it in November. The council said McDaniel may not make the same arguments that supporters would in court, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Saturday.

McDaniel’s political-action committee also gave $1,000 to a campaign against the measure last fall.

In addition, the council questions Gov. Mike Beebe’s commitment to rebuff the lawsuit because the governor previously opposed the ban, saying it would limit the number of homes for children who need them. Beebe is a defendant in the case as the state’s chief executive.

In filings last Thursday, assistant attorneys general Joe Cordi and Colin Jorgensen said the attorney general’s 33-page motion Jan. 16 to dismiss the lawsuit was proof of McDaniel’s commitment to defend the law.

“Regardless of the personal politics and policies of the elected attorney general, it is the legal obligation of his office to defend the laws and agencies of the state of Arkansas,” the filings said.

The Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state on behalf of 29 adults and children from more than a dozen families, saying it unfairly discriminates and doesn’t put the best interest of children first.

The AFC also argues it should be allowed to intervene because of its efforts to put the measure into writing and successfully campaign to get it on the November ballot and approved by voters. The council said the effort cost 20,600 man hours and $92,716, and gives the group a special interest in defending the law.

In addition, the AFC wants the Christian Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund to be allowed to help defend the law in court.

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