A week after Circuit Judge Chris Piazza's historic ruling, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette commented on same-sex marriage, though not directly on the ruling.
It's editorial set out basic principles chiefly that it favored civil unions for "homosexual couples" over marriage. This, the editorial said, would give them "virtually
all of the legal rights that go with a marriage license." Emphasis added.
I don't think Marriage Light is the same thing as equality, certainly if it produces virtually all, but not all, of the rights given others. But let's leave that argument for another day.
The advocates of discrimination against gay people were aware somebody would come up with a third way — a "Clinton-clause" the D-G editorialists might say in other contexts — to get Arkansas voters to bring same-sex couples into the mainstream. And they took steps to guard against it. Here's Amendment 83, crafted in 2004 by the discriminators at the Family Council (including a lawyer now hip-deep in a campaign finance scandal, speaking of high moral values):
Legal status for unmarried persons which is identical or substantially similar to marital status shall not be valid or recognized in Arkansas, except that the legislature may recognize a common law marriage from another state between a man and a woman.
This means — and was intended to mean — that civil unions are illegal in Arkansas.
The Democrat-Gazette thus endorsed something that is unconstitutional in Arkansas. Unless Chris Piazza is upheld it will remain unconstitutional. Legislators are meeting this morning to make it loudly known that they want civil unions to remain unconstitutional.
The D-G talks all the time about pussyfooting editorialists unwilling to speak boldly on difficult issues of the day.