Arkansas Attorney General Rejects Wording Of Proposal To Repeal State’s Gay Marriage Ban

McdanielThe wording of a proposed ballot measure that would repeal the 2004 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Arkansas was rejected by the state's Attorney General Dustin McDaniel on Friday. McDaniel (pictured right) said the proposal by Arkansans for Equality contained "misleading tendencies" and failed to meet the state Supreme Court's requirement for "impartiality." The Times Record reports:

Said McDaniel:

"Specifically, rather than simply describing Amendment 83 to the Arkansas Constitution (the amendment proposed to be repealed), your proposed ballot title asserts an abridgment of undefined 'rights' and seems to presume Amendment 83's illegality in terms of federal law of other states," the opinion said.

"It is conclusory and partisan to assert that Amendment 83 'limits' Arkansans' 'rights' and 'prevents federal laws…being applied in a consistent manner,"' the opinion said. "To use such terms and phrases is to promote by implication, not to summarize, a proposal. As a consequence, the proposed ballot title has misleading tendencies and fails to meet the Arkansas Supreme Court's requirement of impartiality."

Arkansas for Equality submitted its proposal the day after DOMA was struck down by the Supreme Court. The group had hoped to get the proposal on the 2014 general election ballot. A similar proposal by Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality would appear on the 2016 ballot instead. 


  1. disgusted American says

    why F’m bother – Arkansas is a HATE STATe and WILL remain so, until the SCOTUS says otherwise.

  2. Kevin says

    ANd this is a Democrat. For the most part,those lamenting Republicans taking over former Democratic strongholds in Arkansas,West Virigina etc have to remember the majority of those Democrats are Blue Dogs and don’t believe in equal rights for gays and lesbians anymore then Republicans do.

  3. Rexford says

    @ Anthony – I agree. It ain’t gonna happen at the ballot box in Arkansas, and certainly not in a mere 16 months (Nov. 2014). The last poll I saw from there on the issue was 55-38. I don’t consider this striking (down) difference.

  4. matt says

    Here’s the proposed wording that was rejected.

    Title: Proposed Amendment to the Arkansas Constitution to Repeal Amendment 83, Which Limits the Definition of Marriage and Limits the Ability of the State of Arkansas to Recognize Civil Unions or Other Relationships Substantially Similar to Marriage; Which Limits the Rights of Arkansas Residents Married in Other Jurisdictions; Which Limits the Rights of Arkansas Residents Who Entered into Civil Unions in Other States; and Which Prevents Federal Laws Pertaining to the Rights of Married Persons being Applied in a Consistent Manner to Persons Living in Arkansas Who Were Married or Entered into Civil Unions Elsewhere; but Which Allows the Arkansas Legislature or Courts to Determine the Capacity of Persons to Marry, and to Regulate the Legal Rights, Obligations, Privileges and Immunities of Marriage, Subject to Federal Law

  5. Eric says

    After reading that word salad of an amendment, the guy might have had ulterior motives- but that language is unreadable.

  6. Geoff says

    It’s just a matter of time, though. The reddest of the red states will take the longest – because they’ll try every conceivable trick in the book. Law-suits are the best way.

  7. woody says

    i couldn’t follow his argument–or lack there of–at all.
    and what the hell is “federal law of other states?” there’s no such thing.

  8. Armando says

    If that’s the text of the amendment, he’s right. So he approved one wording to repeal the ban, but not another, hardly the work of a bigot.

  9. Bill says

    @Kevin: states have rules about how initiatives are presented to the voters, and it appears in this case that the summary is more of an argument as to why a ban against same-sex marriage should be repealed than a summary of what the initiative does.

    As an attorney general, this guy has to follow the rules regardless of his personal opinion on the issue. It’s appropriate for him to reject a wording in a summary that does not comply with the rules even if the wording consists of a valid argument. In fact, that is what he is supposed to do.

    Keep in mind that this does not keep the initiative off the ballot – it just affects how the summary is worded.

    Before criticizing him on a personal level, at least check to see if he has been in favor of gay rights or if he has been opposing gay rights. According to , while running for office, McDaniel supported the state’s ban on same-sex marriage but said that same-sex couples deserve rights, whereas the Republican candidate claimed that marriage and civil unions were the same (i.e., both should be banned). Since this was an election, we can wonder if McDaniel was personally more in favor of gay rights than he indicated and was making statements as close to his views as possible without risking losing the election. He’s a politician and politicians have been known to pander.

    Unfortunately, the initiative flap is coming up so much in the Google search I tried that it will be a pain to look into it further. If anyone else has the time, please go for it.

  10. Mark says

    There’s no chance of passage in Arkansas in 2014 or 2016. What possible motive would there be to propose an amendment that has no chance of victory? It just gives NOM a talking point.

  11. JONES says

    In addition to this ballot initiative there is also a lawsuit (Wright vs Arkansas) seeking to overturn the constitutional amendment banning SSM citing state & federal guarantees of equal protection.

    No word yet from McDaniel’s office about how they will proceed but this case looks to have a better chance for victory than a ballot initiative.

  12. Steve says

    The ballot is word salad and simply incomprehensible, but his assertion that Arkansas doesn’t violate and deny anyone’s rights is equally absurd.

  13. Kevin says

    Arkansas is going to be one of the states that has to be dragged in kicking and screaming on marriage equality.
    For that matter,so is Pennslyvania.

  14. Liam says

    Unlike many of you who are commenting on this, I live in Arkansas. Dustin McDaniel is a good guy and a good democrat. He is not hostile to our side here. But he has to follow the law, that is what it means to be attorney general.
    They just need to rewrite the summary. This is not the end of the world. And the polling here shows that people are not as hostile to this as Disgusted American and others seem to think. Arkansas is hardly a gay paradise but it is also not a hostile place to live either. Compare any rural area in other states to rural areas in Arkansas and you will see similar viewpoints. The urban areas of Arkansas are similar to other urban areas in the south.