Arkansas Hub

Federal Judge Strikes Down Arkansas' Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

6a00d8341c730253ef01b8d08173af970c-800wiA federal judge has struck down Arkansas' ban on same-sex marriage, the AP reports:

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker ruled in favor of two same-sex couples who had challenged a 2004 constitutional amendment and earlier state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman, arguing that the ban violated the U.S. Constitution and discriminated based on sexual orientation.

But Baker put her ruling on hold, and the state is expected to appeal it to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in St. Louis.

Baker wrote in her ruling that the state's marriage laws violate the U.S. Constitution by "precluding same-sex couples from exercising their fundamental right to marry in Arkansas, by not recognizing valid same-sex marriages from other states, and by discriminating on the basis of gender."

Arkansas' State Supreme Court is also currently considering a challenge to the state's same-sex marriage ban. The justices will decide whether to uphold Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza's ruling which struck down the Natural State's marriage ban or to find in favor of the state and reverse that decision. Piazza's ruling made it possible for 541 same-sex couples to say "I do" earlier this year until the state Supreme Court intervened and ordered the marriages to cease until it could review the matter.

There is no comment on this latest ruling from Arkansas' Attorney General Dustin McDaniels (D) who has previously stated that he will defend the state's ban despite his personal support for marriage equality.

READ the ruling below:

4:13-cv-00410 #40 Arkansas Federal Decision by Equality Case Files


Gay Marriage Opponents Rally Outside Arkansas Supreme Court On Eve Of Hearing: VIDEO


Arkansas will get a double-dose of the same-sex marriage fight on Thursday, with judges scheduled to hear arguments in two separate lawsuits challenging the state's marriage ban.

In May, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza struck down Arkansas' marriage ban as unconstitutional in Wright v. Arkansas. About 500 same-sex couples married before the state Supreme Court finally stayed Piazza's decision. At 9 a.m. CDT on Thursday, the high court will hear arguments in the state's appeal of the May ruling.

Then, at 1:30 p.m. CDT, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker will hear arguments on motions from both sides in a federal lawsuit challenging the marriage ban, Jernigan v. Crane. Same-sex couples are asking Baker to immediately strike down the ban, while the state is asking her to dismiss the suit. 

On the eve of the hearings, hundreds gathered on the steps of the Arkansas Supreme Court building Wednesday to call on the justices to uphold the marriage ban and "honor [the] vote" of people who approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2004.

Among those who spoke at the rally was Josh Duggar, executive director of Family Research Council Action and a star of the TLC reality series 19 Kids and Counting, according to Arkansas Online.

“There is an agenda to silence us, to silence those of us who believe in what is right, those of us who have these deeply held convictions," Duggar told the crowd. "Let me tell you, they're taking away your right to speak. And I call on the Arkansas Supreme Court to stand with the people and to honor their vote."

The rally was organized by the Arkansas Family Council, whose executive directory, Jerry Cox, said it focused on the state Supreme Court because its justices are elected.

Arkansas supreme courtIn August, plaintiffs in Wright v. Arkansas filed a motion asking Supreme Court justices to recuse themselves if they are up for re-election, after conservative state lawmakers threatened retaliation against those who side with marriage equality. But that motion was rejected. 

Cox reiterated those threats on Wednesday, according to Arkansas News.

“It’s because the judges are way out of line, and the people know that,” he said. 

"Every time the people have had the chance to vote on marriage, almost every time, they define it as the union of a man and a woman," Cox told Arkansas Online. "But when the courts get involved, it's almost like referees running onto the field saying, 'Let's change the score, we don't like the outcome.'"

Also attending the rally were a few dozen supporters of marriage equality. One carried a sign that said, "Charles Manson has the right to marry and gay couples don't."

Another, Caleb Alexander of Monticello, thoroughly dismantled Cox's argument and the theme of the rally, according to Arkansas News.

“The judges, they’re not elected to uphold a vote. They’re elected to uphold the Constitution,” Alexander said. “The Constitution says that equal rights are not subject to a vote. The majority can’t legislate to a minority. I think a lot of the speeches sounded like a speech made in 1942 before desegregation."

Watch KARK Channel 4's report, AFTER THE JUMP ...

UPDATE: Oral arguments in the Arkansas Supreme Court case have begun and are being live-streammed here

Continue reading "Gay Marriage Opponents Rally Outside Arkansas Supreme Court On Eve Of Hearing: VIDEO" »

MLB's Torii Hunter Endorses Arkansas Politician for Protecting 'One Man and One Woman' Marriage: AUDIO


Earlier this week, Major League Baseball player Torii Hunter released a radio spot, endorsing a politician from his native Arkansas. The politician is Asa Hutchinson (R), who is running for governor.

In the spot, Hunter specifically appeals to Black voters, saying that in Hutchinson's time as a lawyer, he "fought for more majority African-American districts in the state legislature." He continues, saying Hutchinson is "committed to the principles we hold dear, like a strong faith in God, equal justice for all, and keeping marriage between one man and one woman."

As if the above contradiction weren't blatant enough, Hunter also invokes Martin Luther King in the spot, quoting him in saying "men should be judged by the content of their character." This is given as a reason for Black voters to not dismiss Hutchinson: Said Hunter: "we too often prejudge political candidates by their party label. I'm asking you to consider Asa for his actions."

This isn't the first time Torii Hunter has let his beliefs on gay issues be known; in 2012, he said the thought of playing with a gay athlete made him "uncomfortable," "as a Christian." 

AFTER THE JUMP is full text of the speech, and the audio embedded:

Continue reading "MLB's Torii Hunter Endorses Arkansas Politician for Protecting 'One Man and One Woman' Marriage: AUDIO" »

Conservative GOP Candidates Running Grindr Banner Ads

Grindr_adGOP frontrunner Tom Cotton (R) is running a tight race with Mark Pryor (D)  for one of Arkansas’s senatorial seats. Recent polls out of the University of Arkansas have Cotton leading Pryor by a margin of 49-36%. His lead is due in no small part to a recent endorsement from the NRA and maybe (just maybe) the set of ads the pro-gun organization ran for him on Grindr.

According to The Daily Beast, the NRA paid for a batch of banner ads featuring Cotton that popped up on the popular gay networking app. While Grindr is no stranger to featuring advertisements for a wide range of social causes, the platform has a policy against running political advertising provided by third-party networks.

“While we do have safeguards in place to monitor for ads on third-party networks, we do serve billions of ads on our network, so there is the occasional chance that ads like this may appear,” a Grindr representative explained to The Daily Beast. “In this instance, we’ve reached out to the third-party networks to have these ads removed.”

As word about the ads spread across the internet, the firm purportedly responsible for placing them and Grindr CEO Joel Simkhai denied any involvement or knowledge of the curious endorsement.

“We have no knowledge of the ad mentioned,” Simkhai told Buzzfeed. “We do not welcome the NRA to advertise with us.”

In related news, LGBT ally Zach Wahls was tipped by a friend this week that Iowa GOP Senate hopeful Joni Ernst was also running ads on the gay app. 

NOM Targets Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor in New Ad: VIDEO


Hoping to put its recent string of embarrassing set-backs squarely in the rear-view mirror, the National Organization for Marriage has begun targeting Sen. Mark Pryor with the hopes of ousting the two-term Democrat from Arkansas. 

Highlighting Pryor's somewhat ambiguous position on LGBT equality, NOM released a new SuperPac ad and press release this week, with Brian Brown urging "Arkansas voters who believe in marriage as the union of one man and one woman cast their votes for Tom Cotton."

Watch the 30-second spot, AFTER THE JUMP...

Politico rates the Arkansas Senate race as a "Likely Republican"

Previously, "NOM Spends Over $100K to Support Anti-gay North Carolina Senate Candidate Thom Tillis: VIDEO" [tlrd]

Continue reading "NOM Targets Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor in New Ad: VIDEO" »

Arkansas Supreme Court Sets November 20 Hearing Date For Challenge to State's Gay Marriage Ban


The Arkansas Supreme Court has set November 20th as the date it will hear arguments concerning a challenge to the state's gay marriage ban, Buzzfeed's Chris Geidner reports:

The scheduling coincides with a separate case challenging Arkansas' gay marriage ban that be heard by a federal judge that day. 

A hearing for summary judgement in Montana's gay marriage battle is also scheduled for November 20th. 


Towleroad - Blogged