Arizona Legislature Moves to Repeal Adoption Preference Law

Will same-sex couples be treated equally when adopting children in Arizona?

Lawmakers in Arizona are considering legislation that would strike language in the state’s current laws pertaining to adoption that give preference to a husband and wife over others in adoptions. The legislators argue that these preferences should be banned in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriages.

In addition to leveling the adoption playing field for gay couples, the proposed legislation would also permit single persons to adopt as readily as couples.  With so many of the State’s children currently being raised in single parent households the preference previously given to couples in the adoption statutes is no longer valid.

Reasons to Make Adoptions Easier

While democrats in the Arizona Senate say that the proposed legislation is designed to align the state’s adoption laws with the Supreme Court’s ruling, another factor may have influenced this initiative: 19,000 children are in state foster care. Lawmakers believe children will be better off if they are placed in a “loving family” rather than remaining in a group home, regardless of whether they live with a husband and wife, two moms, or two dads.

Roadblocks to the Bill

The bill has been assigned to the Health and Human Services Committee, but is opposed by the committee chairperson.  It is unknown whether she will exercise his power and prevent the bill coming to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

As it relates to this measure, the committee chair, Nancy Barto, does not believe the Supreme Court has addressed this specific issue and therefore believes it is within Arizona’s authority since the U.S. Constitution grants state powers that have not been reserved by the federal government.

Ms. Barto said in part, “these changes preferring a man and a woman in terms of adoption and other things, should be based on social science…”

Strong Support

The American Civil Liberties Union has weighed in by arguing that married same-sex couples must be treated equally in all respects because of the Supreme Court ruling. A spokesman for the ACLU also said the law prohibits discriminatory treatment of these couples in adoption services.

While it remains unclear whether the legislation will be passed, adoption can be a rewarding experience for many couples, and a family law attorney can help you navigate the process.