Arkansas Trying To Repeal State Ban On Gay Marriage

gay wedding marriageArkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has certified a ballot title that could allow voters to repeal his state’s constitutional marriage amendment next year.

Amendment 83, which was passed in 2004 by 75 percent of voters, provides that Arkansas neither will recognize nor perform same-sex marriages. McDaniel’s approval of this new ballot title, which was proposed by Arkansans for Equality founder Christina Harrison, is the first of many steps toward securing equal marriage in the state. Now, Harrison must gather more than 78,000 signatures by next July to places the measure on the 2014 ballot. If approved by voters, it would allow the Arkansas General Assembly “to pass such laws relating to same-sex marriage as it deems appropriate.”

Arkansans for Equality co-chairman Judd Mann told Arkansas News he is mobilizing to build support from community volunteers. While that’s encouraging, the group needs to spend more time attending to its online presence. The Arkansans for Equality website offers little information about who is in charge or where events are happening, and both the group and its founders maintain negligent presences on social media. Admittedly, these are problems that easily can be remedied, but they’re important tools to securing support and establishing legitimacy.

While McDaniel sided with Arkansans for Equality’s ballot title, he rejected a complementary submission filed by Jack Weir III and Christopher Jacks of the Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality. Weir and Jacks proposed “The Arkansas Marriage Equality Amendment,” which would have redefined marriage in the state as a union of two people irrespective of their genders. McDaniel cited several ambiguities in the proposal, and cautioned that, before resubmitting, Weir and Jacks reconsider the name of their ballot title, which may not satisfy the state’s test of impartiality.

Reached for comment about these rulings, Attorney General McDaniel’s press advisor Aaron Sadler explained, “Our opinions speak for themselves, so we don’t comment on them.” And when asked about how McDaniel, a Democrat, personally feels about same-sex marriage, Sadler repeatedly said, “We have no comment.”