The Arkansas Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision Thursday to strike down a law that prevented gay and unmarried couples from adopting.
Approved by voters in 2008, the law effectively banned gay and lesbian couples from adopting or fostering children because they can't legally marry in Arkansas. The measure also would have been extended to unmarried heterosexual couples who live together.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of a group of families, arguing that the law arbitrarily bans qualified families from consideration when the state has too few foster and adoptive families. The group said it knew of 29 people from a dozen families who claimed the law would have an impact on them.
Delighted with the court's decision, some gay couples are already making plans to adopt.
"The future starts for us today and we really have a lot of other options for us now," Little Rock resident Matt Harrison said.
Pro-family groups say the high court failed to put children first.
"The court has said to every one of those children that your right to be placed in a a good stable home where you can have a good chance of success must be secondary to the rights of adults," said Jerry Cox, president of the Family Action Committee.