A proposal aimed at barring gays and lesbians from becoming foster or adoptive parents has been cleared to appear on this autumn’s ballot in Arkansas.

The measure would prohibit unmarried couples living together from fostering or adopting children.

Secretary of State Charlie Daniels certified the proposed initiative for the November 4 ballot after verifying that the Arkansas Family Council Action Committee had submitted 85,389 valid signatures of registered voters.

Supporters needed to turn in at least 61,974 valid signatures.

“Arkansas needs to affirm the importance of married mothers and fathers,” Family Council president Jerry Cox said.

“We need to publicly affirm the gold standard of rearing children whenever we can. The state standard should be as close to that gold standard of married mom and dad homes as possible”, he added.

The Family Council campaign is a response to a 2006 Arkansas Supreme Court decision striking down a state policy that specifically barred gays and lesbians from becoming foster parents.

The ballot measure would take the place of a state policy that currently bars unmarried couples living together from serving as foster parents.

The measure faces the threat of a lawsuit from groups who say that it unfairly discriminates against unmarried couples and limits the number of foster and adoptive homes available for children.

Arkansas Families First is campaigning against the measure and has said it plans to file a lawsuit to keep it from appearing on the November ballot.

Debbie Willhite, a lead consultant for the group, said last week the group has found numerous signatures that should have been rejected by the state as invalid and that they also plan to challenge the constitutionality of the measure.

Mississippi and Michigan have explicit policies banning same-sex couples from adopting, while the legal situation is unclear in many other states.

Single gay or lesbian people and same-sex couples are banned from adopting in Florida.

There are no specific restrictions on single gays adopting in any other state.