by Max Brantley
The proposal is the work of Arkansans for Equality. They've submitted a proposal for review by the attorney general, in hopes of gathering signatures to put the measure on the ballot in 2014.
Now comes announcement of ANOTHER marriage equality petition drive, called the Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality. It will submit a petition proposal Tuesday to the attorney general — the 145th anniversary of the ratification of the 14th Amendment (equal rights). It points toward a 2016 election. That will be a presidential election year. It does not propose repeal of Amendment 83, but would supercede it with an amendment proposing a staightforward prohibition of banning marriage on account of "sex or sexual orientation."
People yearn to breathe free. Buoyed by recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the thirst for equal rights under the law is giving rise to action everywhere. In Arkansas, a state court lawsuit has been filed by 11 couples seeking marriage equality. I think another lawsuit is possible soon. The courts and voters in Arkansas may not be ready. Sooner or later, though, the day of equality will come here, too,. I think the ballot proposals and court challenges and the powerful public witness of brave people standing up to be counted, will, in time, make an enormous difference, just as it did in the 1960s in another great civil rights struggle.
ARKANSAS EQUALITY GROUP TO TURN IN BALLOT INITIATIVE
Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality is Set to Turn In Ballot Initiative on Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality (A.I.M.E.) will submit their ballot initiative to the Arkansas Attorney General on Tuesday, July 9, 2013, the 145th anniversary of the ratification of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. You are invited to attend a press conference on the front steps of the Arkansas State Capitol at 4:00 pm following the submission. Co-Founder, Trey Weir, will speak briefly on the initiative and the importance of this particular anniversary followed by a "question and answer" session. Other confirmed guest speakers include Brooks Cato, the deacon of St. Paul's Episcopal Church of Newport, Arkansas.
A.I.M.E. is a grassroots movement aiming to put marriage equality on the ballot in the Arkansas 2016 general election. A.I.M.E. started the day after the 2012 elections when the LGBT community had historic wins with Maine, Maryland, and Washington accepting marriage equality and Minnesota rejecting the ban on gay marriage similar to the one put in place in Arkansas in 2004. Since the 2012 election, positive things continue to happen in the way of LGBT equality. In March of 2013, a Washington Post - ABC News Poll found that 58% of Americans support marriage for same-sex couples now and in just the past six months Rhode Island, Delaware, and Minnesota have approved same-sex marriage, doubling the number of states that allow same-sex marriage in the United States. California was able to resume same-sex marriages after the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Proposition 8 and struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. This Spring, the Arkansas State Legislature reaffirmed their support for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the definition of marriage as being between a man and woman, just months before the historic Supreme Court rulings.
We hope that LGBT equality will find its way to Arkansas and the rest of the south in the near future. Our success is based not only on getting this initiative passed but also on educating our fellow Arkansans on the issue. We want to start a public dialogue about marriage equality, with it brought up both at the water cooler and the dinner table. We hope that our efforts will put marriage equality and other LGBT issues on the fast track in the right direction here in Arkansas.
If you have any additional questions on this initiative, please contact Trey Weir (contact information above). You can also visit our website or our Facebook page for more details and updates.
The language that will be submitted to the Attorney General's office is shown below:
The Arkansas Marriage Equality Amendment
AN AMENDMENT TO THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION TO PROVIDE THAT THE RIGHT TO MARRY SHALL NOT BE ABRIDGED OR DENIED ON ACCOUNT OF SEX OR SEXUAL ORIENTATION - PROVIDING THAT NO MEMBER OF THE CLERGY OR RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION SHALL BE REQUIRED TO PROVIDE ACCOMMODATIONS, ADVANTAGES, FACILITIES OR PRIVILEGES RELATING TO THE SOLEMNIZATION OR CELEBRATION OF MARRIAGE AND THAT THE REFUSAL TO DO SO SHALL NOT CREATE ANY CIVIL CLAIM OR CAUSE OF ACTION.
(Proposed Constitutional Amendment)
Be it enacted by the people of the State of Arkansas:
SECTION 1. The right to marry shall not be abridged or denied on account of sex or sexual orientation.
SECTION 2. No member of the clergy or religious organization shall be required to provide accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges related to the solemnization or celebration of marriage. The refusal to do so shall not create any civil claim or cause of action.
Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality