PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is instructing a state agency to allow all legally married couples, including same-sex couples, to jointly be adoptive and foster parents.
The Arizona Republic reports that Ducey’s move announced Wednesday night is a reaction to the agency’s decision in February to stop giving same-sex couples licenses to be adoptive and foster parents.
“With 17,000 children under the state’s care, we need more adoption in Arizona, not less. That’s why I feel strongly — as I have said many times before — that all loving families should be able to serve as foster parents and adopt,” Ducey said in his statement.
Under past Arizona law defining marriage as between only a man and a woman, the state did not allow married same-sex couples to be licensed to adopt or foster as a married couple.
But the Department of Child Safety began allowing same-sex couples to be adoptive and foster parents following a federal court ruling striking down Arizona’s same-sex marriage ban.
However, the department later halted the practice following the issuance of an internal Feb. 4 memo, citing the Jan. 16 announcement that the U.S. Supreme Court would consider the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.
“Effective immediately, and pending the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Department will revert to its previous interpretation of state law, rule and policy,” the memo stated.
The memo was issued about a week before Ducey fired agency Director Charles Flanagan.
The policy change is believed to have stemmed from legal advice from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.
Article continues belowThe issue has gained statewide attention recently after Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery turned away a same-sex couple seeking help to arrange a stepparent adoption for one of the spouses.
Last week, Ducey vetoed a bill that would have given county attorneys the option instead of a mandate to help with uncontested adoptions.