Ron Fournier/National Journal
CIVIL RIGHTS FOR SOME: A couple visiting the Little Rock Nine memorial draw a distinction with civil rights fight by gay people.
Former Arkansas news reporter Ron Fournier
, now at the National Journal, has been in Little Rock and writes here
about the legal battle to overturn the state ban on same-sex marriage. He draws parallels to the fight for civil rights of black people and a resistance on the part of many to that comparison. He visits, too, with Gov. Mike Beebe
"It's another step for me to get to gay marriage," he [Beebe] says. Even a stranger to Beebe's nuanced politics would recognize him signaling that both he and his state are evolving, albeit slowly, toward that step.
When I compare his justifications for opposing gay marriage to those used by Faubus, Beebe sternly makes two distinctions. First, the segregationist governor took actions he knew were wrong to further his political career (Beebe plans to retire after his term expires next year). Second, Faubus broke the law and "I wouldn't do that."
Someday, I say, legal bans on gay marriage may be ruled unconstitutional, and not just at a county level. Beebe smiles.
He talked, too, with Attorney General Dustin McDaniel
, now personally in support of gay marriage but fighting to derail the equality lawsuit in Arkansas.
"I think we are putting forward legitimate legal arguments" against Piazza's ruling, based on the state Constitution, he says. "(But) I think from a policy perspective, yes, your theory is right. The trend is clear. Young Americans don't see (gay marriage) as an issue at all."
He meets, too, with a black couple visiting the Little Rock Nine monument to the civil rights struggle, but finds little sympathy for the fight for gay rights from the black Baptist minister husband. He says the Bible is against it. He finds no contradiction that opponents of black civil rights also claimed Biblical foundation back in the day.
Fournier concludes, just before a reproducing of the massive list of same-sex marriage licenses published in the daily newspaper Tuesday,
It's easy to demonize conservatives and Christians. It's harder to recognize that faith is a stern master, especially among African-Americans whose animus toward homosexuality runs deep. We should know by now that social change takes times, but the American public tends to eventually get things right.
The arc of the moral universal is long but it bends toward justice," Martin Luther King said of the fight for racial equality. Five decades later, Donaldson and his wife posed for pictures in front of the Little Rock Nine monument and dismissed the fight for sexual equality. In the not-too-distant future, their views on homosexuality will pass into history. Nobody can stop the arc of justice.
In case Arkansans miss it, the weight of opinion continues to rise in support of equality, as evidenced by national media such as this. It took until 1992 for Arkansas to (barely) remove racial discrimination from its Constitution. But voters finally did.