An increasing number of gay couples are adopting children in the U.S., according to census data.
Statistics from 2009 show that about 19 percent of same-sex couples claimed they had adopted a child on their forms. This shows a sharp increase since 2000 when just 8 percent stated the same.
Adam Pertman, executive director of Evan B Donaldson Adoption Institute, said, according to The New York Times: “The trend line is absolutely straight up … It’s now a reality on the ground.”
President Barack Obama has been an outspoken supporter of allowing gay couples to have easier access to adopt. However, religious leaders and traditionalists have objected, believing that the family should be founded on one man and one woman.
With 115,000 children now on the waiting list for adoption in the U.S., pressure has been building over recent years for more people, homosexual or heterosexual, to be encouraged to adopt.
According to The Daily Mail, Bryan Samuels, commissioner for the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, recently said, “The child welfare system has come to understand that placing a child in a gay or lesbian family is no greater risk than placing them in a heterosexual family.”
In April, Arkansas’ Supreme Court struck down a voter-approved initiative that barred same-sex couples and unmarried heterosexual couples from adopting or serving as foster parents.
The court ruled that the law, known as Act 1, is unconstitutional and burdens privacy rights. The written opinion stated that it is a fundamental right for people to engage in private, consensual sexual activity and Act 1 pits that right against the ability to adopt or foster children.
Gay or unmarried heterosexual couples “must choose either to lead a life of private, sexual intimacy with a partner without the opportunity to adopt or foster children, or forego sexual cohabitating and, thereby, attain eligibility to adopt or foster,” Justice Robert L. Brown wrote in his opinion.
The American Civil Liberties Union brought the case before the court on behalf of a group of gay couples. Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU in Arkansas, described the ruling as a “relief for the over 1,600 children in the state of Arkansas who need a permanent family.”
Denouncing the court decision, Jerry Cox, president of the Family Council Action Committee in Arkansas, said in a statement, “This is a classic example of judicial tyranny. The Arkansas Supreme Court has chosen to run roughshod over the people’s will and refused to uphold a good law that protected the children in the state’s care.”
There are only two states, Mississippi and Utah, which bans unmarried, cohabiting couples from adopting. Last September, a Florida appeals court sided with a lower court ruling that found the state ban on gay adoption to be unconstitutional.