Rural and evangelical voters propelled Arkansas to adopt one of the nation's few bans against unmarried couples becoming foster or adoptive parents.
-- From "Rural Arkansas championed foster, adoption ban" by Jon Gambrell, Associated Press 11/6/08
Championed by religious conservatives and fueled by a pulpit campaign, the ban passed with the endorsement of 56.9 percent of the voters. Major support came from rural counties in southwest Arkansas, where about two-thirds of voters supported the measure.
Only Pulaski County, home to Little Rock, offered a strong 15,000-vote margin opposing the ban. Washington County, home to the University of Arkansas, rejected the ban by a margin of 2,300 votes out of 65,000 cast.
The result came as a surprise to opponents. Gov. Mike Beebe had opposed the measure, citing a lack of foster homes in the state. Arkansas Families First had launched a series of television advertisements urging voters to reject the ban and a University of Arkansas poll showed 55 percent of the respondents opposed it.
Though the measure bans unmarried couples from adopting and fostering children, the Arkansas Family Council portrayed it as a battle against a "gay agenda." The council relied on fliers and church sermons to buoy its cause.
Arkansas joins Utah, home to a large, conservative Mormon population, as the only states with bans against unmarried couples fostering or adopting children. Mississippi bans gay couples, but not single gays, from adopting children. Florida is the only state to completely ban gay adoption.
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