Vote ‘No’ on Act 1 

Whatever else Mike Huckabee did during 10 years in office, he didn't leave the state with a Child and Family Services Division worthy of the name.

Though Gov. Mike Beebe has been reluctant to discuss it in detail, word eventually reached the new governor that federal agencies and others had found shortcomings in the child welfare system. That became graphically apparent this year with the deaths of four foster children and the near-death of another whose “welfare” had been reviewed by a state worker.

I haven't been happy with the state's — and the governor's — refusal to provide accountability in these cases. My irritability rose last week when the Times reported that a willing foster parent had been denied participation by a religious organization that recruits foster parents for the state. The woman declined to sign an oath that she was not a lesbian and not having sex outside of marriage (though she could have). She got no response to her direct application to the state. That contributed to the appearance that the state has outsourced foster parent recruiting to an agency that continues to apply the court-invalidated Huckabee-era rule intended to bar gays from parenting.

My criticism did prompt the governor's office to reveal that a “top-to-bottom” review of child services was underway. Legislators shed a little more sunshine with a hearing at which the state confessed numerous breakdowns in the case of a Benton County foster parent convicted of sexually abusing children. This week, the head of Child and Family Services resigned. Other new hands have been brought aboard.

Late last week, Beebe himself provided cause to cheer. He confirmed that the state may junk the rule that prohibits placement of foster children in homes with an unmarried couple. Such a rule can prohibit placement of a child in the best possible setting — say with an unmarried relative rather than a stranger.

This change would be profoundly significant and a timely reinforcement of the argument against Initiated Act 1, which would bar adoptions and foster parenting in homes with unwed couples.

Governor Beebe has artfully clarified the issue. The adoption ban simply goes too far. It's an unwarranted state intrusion into private lives. The foster parenting ban, too, makes it more difficult to find homes for children. Children should be the state's first concern. They should be placed in the best possible home after a review by qualified people. A group of retired judges said this week that obstacles presented by Act 1 would not be in the interest of children in such judicial proceedings.

It seems so elementary. But the Family Council, which is pushing the child-punitive initiated act, believes homophobia can trump common sense. The measure is intended to keep gay people from being parents, though it would hamper straight people, too. Polls show, however, that Arkansans are more conflicted on this issue than on gay marriage. They recognize that all kinds of homes can provide warm shelter for an oversupply of needy children.

Much as I wish the governor would go farther on disclosure and accountability, fairness demands that I acknowledge what a monumental difference a change in administration can make. The governor seems prepared to reverse a decade of discriminatory policy to help the defenseless. Because of the state's sexual politics, this is no small thing. It should not go unappreciated. Plus, it just might have an impact in November. Vote ‘No” on Initiated Act 1.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • The arrival of autumn open line

    Here's the open line. Harvest Fest still happening in Hillcrest. Hog Roast tomorrow in North Little Rock in perfect weather.
    • Oct 22, 2016
  • Nasty women rise up against The Deplorable Donald

    It had to happen. Donald Trump's debate interjection that Hillary Clinton was a "nasty woman" has become a battle cry among women; a Twitter meme; a Facebook favorite, and, naturally, a marketing opportunity for T-shirt, button and bumper sticker makers.
    • Oct 22, 2016
  • Formal opposition emerges to Issue 3, the corporate welfare amendment

    It became apparent this morning that at least some money would be spent in opposition to Issue 3, a massive corporate welfare proposal to allow the state to pledge unlimited tax money to private projects and to allow local governments to also give money to private business and chamber of commerce lobbyists, a practice that has been ruled unconstitutional currently.
    • Oct 22, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • The education legislature

    Republican political control in Arkansas means many things: lots of gun bills, lots of anti-abortion bills, lots of efforts to make religious belief law, such as discrimination against gay people.
    • Mar 10, 2015
  • Asa's team

    It's a measure of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's appointments that the most widely praised appointment so far was of a man ineligible to hold the job.
    • Mar 3, 2015
  • Supremely discredited

    Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood and her allies continue to discredit the state's highest court.
    • Jul 30, 2015

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Trumped in Arkansas

    After two solid debates and the release of a video and corroborating testimony that further confirmed the misogyny of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidential election Nov. 8
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • So many provocations...

    Another bad week demands a Worst Of listing.
    • Oct 6, 2016
  • State university secrets

    Today's subject: lack of accountability at state universities.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Five Fun Fall Activities

Five Fun Fall Activities

Autumn temps are perfect for outdoor activities

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Arkansas 2016: the microclimate election

    In the lead-up to the past four Arkansas election cycles, the forecast has been a fairly simple one: strong winds blowing in the GOP direction.
  • Trumped in Arkansas

    After two solid debates and the release of a video and corroborating testimony that further confirmed the misogyny of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidential election Nov. 8

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The big loser

    • We are leaving in 3 hours. An I never said that anybody said I DID…

    • on October 22, 2016
  • Re: The big loser

    • Here's some more information for the investigator from the Enquirer. It's a confession from somebody…

    • on October 21, 2016
  • Re: The big loser

    • Nobody here but you said anything bad about Shelton. Nothing that happened to her was…

    • on October 21, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation