An Arkansas judge will decide Friday whether a lawsuit challenging the state's ban on adoption for unmarried couples will be allowed to continue.
On Nov. 4, Arkansas voters passed Act 1 -- a ballot measure giving only married couples the right to adopt or care for foster children. The law says the ban "applies equally to cohabiting opposite-sex and same-sex individuals."
The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on behalf of same-sex couples in the state, arguing that the ban is unconstitutional.
But lawyers from the Alliance Defense Fund say the measure keeps the best interests of children in mind.
"Research and experience shows that a home environment consisting of unmarried, cohabiting adults is not the best way to ensure the long term well-being of children," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Byron Babione. "We should respect the voice of the people on this matter."
ADF is a Christian legal group representing the Family Council Action Committee, which started the initiative behind the adoption restrictions.
Currently, the lawsuit is against the state of Arkansas, but tomorrow's hearing will determine if ADF and the FCAC can step in to represent the state.
"A granting of the motion will ensure the best possible legal defense of the act and to prevent the democratic process from being undermined," ADF attorneys stated on the group's Web site.
The battle surrounding gay adoption is about as fiery as the debate on same-sex marriage.
Similar lawsuits are underway in Florida, Tennessee, and Kentucky. For more than 30 years, Florida has only permitted married couples to adopt. Tennessee and Kentucky are considering a ban.
The pending decision also comes as gay rights groups continue to challenge California's ban on same-sex marriage in court the state's Supreme Court.
Sources: Alliance Defense Fund, Associated Press