Thursday, June 15, 2006

Perpetuating A Culture Of Fear Hurts Our Children

It seems that the best thing to come out of Arkansas in a long time was Bill Clinton. It's certainly not a 1999 state law that bans homosexuals from becoming foster parents. The Associated Press reports that the matter is currently before the Arkansas Supreme Court where the state has appealed a 2004 lower court decision that found the law unconstitutional.

Ms. Kathy L. Hall, attorney for the Department of Health and Human Services indicated that the state's utmost concern is the health, safety and welfare of foster children. This is an admirable goal and one that I hope every person reading this shares. However, she then says, "and that can't happen in a home where unmarried sex occurs." Interestingly enough, the State does not ban single heterosexual persons from being foster parents. Ms. Hall when challenged by Justice Annabelle Clinton Imber on the point replied that unlike homosexuals, a single heterosexual parent "has the potential" to find a spouse. So apparently it's o.k. for a child to be in a home where unmarried sex occurs BUT ONLY IF there is a possibility that the foster parent could, at some unknown future time, become married. Glad that she clarified it.

This is what is known as pretzel logic.

Arkansas is trying to have it both ways and the real losers are the children. If the concern is that single people who MAY engage in sex outside of marriage are a bad influence on children, then one of two changes should apply. Either no one who is unmarried should be allowed to have foster children, or gay couples should be allowed to marry in order to role model sex as something that only occurs between adults in a commited and legally sanctioned relationship. Otherwise, the lower court is right, it's discrimination.

So, if we decide that single people who may be having sex outside of marriage, shouldn't for the moral sake of the children, be foster parents, shouldn't we really take it a step further? Shouldn't we terminate the parental rights of divorced people? They might have sex before remarrying. Or how about, God forbid, parents who had children without ever marrying?! If you take what Ms. Hall claims is the spirit of the law to the logical conclusion, Arkansas is going to have more foster children than ever.

It's ridiculous, it's discrimination, and Kathy Hall knows it.

There's a lot more that I could say about this topic. It seems obvious that it is derived from the erroneous belief that homosexuality is a deviant practise and one where someone can become corrupted by exposure to it. There is not one shred of scientific evidence to support such a theory. It may also derive from the belief that homosexuals are more likely to become child molesters. There is no evidence to support this theory either. People who molest children come from both sexual orientations and are classified under a psychiatric disorder known as pedophilia. No evidence suggests that homosexuals are more likely to be pedofiles than heterosexuals.

It's time that we begin to tell our government to focus on the crux of the issue: The fact that there are so many children who need foster homes. Instead of perpetuating a culture of fear, let's instead, put our effort into parental training initiatives, domestic violence prevention programs, and support services for families. These are long term solutions that will cost us a hell of a lot less public dollars in the long run and build stronger, better communities.

Think Kathy Hall and Arkansas are wrong? Why not tell her? E-mail Kathy Hall


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