Arkansas Hub

8th Circuit Defers Arguments on Marriage Cases from SD, AR, MO, and NE Pending SCOTUS Decision

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals says it is deferring arguments on four same-sex marriage cases until SCOTUS rules, KDLT reports:

NewvilleThe court announced Wednesday that it's holding off on "any further consideration" of the cases from South Dakota, Arkansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Arguments were scheduled to begin on May 12 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Employment and Civil Rights Attorney Joshua Newville, who is representing clients from South Dakota is pissed that the court held off this decision for so long.

Wrote Newville in a press release:

We have just been informed that the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals is canceling the marriage equality arguments scheduled for May 12 in light of yesterday's arguments at the Supreme Court. Given that the 8th Circuit knew all along that the Supreme Court arguments were scheduled for yesterday, we're not certain why the Court has proceeded in the manner that it has. Many of my clients, as well as their family, friends, and supporters, spent money on hotels, flights, etc. I also put many hours into preparing for the argument after the Court denied multiple motions to stay the proceedings pending the Supreme Court arguments.

Newville adds:

This process has been a painful one for my clients, and the Court's action today adds to the roller-coaster they've been forced to endure. Despite a South Dakota district court victory nearly five months ago, families across the state still suffer daily harm and humiliation as they are denied basic equal rights and dignity. Despite winning their case and showing that they were deprived a basic fundamental right, they've had that victory put on hold -- the courts effectively telling them that their rights take a back seat to a very lengthy and convoluted appeals process.

When the Supreme Court denied Alabama's request to stay the district court judgment pending appeal, it did so after it granted review to the 6th Circuit cases heard yesterday. In doing so, the Supreme Court made clear that same-sex couples and their children should not have to wait another day to be treated with basic dignity and respect. Thus, while I am optimistic about the outcome of yesterday's arguments at the Supreme Court, I am beyond troubled by the fact that loving and committed couples in South Dakota and North Dakota are denied equality while similarly situated couples in states like Florida and Alabama have marriage equality pending appeals in those states.

Similarly, my clients in North Dakota had their case fully briefed and presented to the district court there in early September 2014. For over four months, that court did nothing with the case. Then, in January, the Supreme Court granted review in the 6th Circuit cases and the district court in North Dakota put the case on hold.

Arkansas AG Approves Referendum to Repeal Law Banning Local LGBT Protections

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has given her initial approval to a ballot referendum that seeks to reverse the state's new law preventing local governments from extending non-discrimination protections to LGBT individuals, the AP reports:

RutledgeRutledge’s certification means supporters of the measure can begin gathering the roughly 51,000 signatures from registered voters needed to put the proposal on the 2016 ballot. The signatures must be submitted by late July, when the law is set to take effect.

David Couch, the Little Rock attorney who submitted the proposal, said he hoped to begin gathering signatures as soon as this weekend.

“I think there’s an overwhelming amount of support not only from the groups of people who might be affected by the law, but the support from the business community has been surprising,” Couch said. “I think the people who do business in this state realize this law could be a black eye for this state.”

Tennessee has a similar law on the books. 

Arkansas Baptist Pastor and Anti-LGBT Spokesman Exposed as Convicted Serial Rapist: VIDEO


Anti-LGBT activists in Eureka Springs, Arkansas recently released a video pushing for the repeal of Ordinance 2223, which protects LGBT people from discrimination.

The video features a number of prominent spokespeople, including a Baptist pastor who has been exposed as a serial rapist, the Arkansas Times reports:

Acra Lee Turner, 60, currently serves as a pastor of Penn Memorial Baptist Church in Eureka Springs. In an interview with the Times, he confirmed that he is the same Acra Lee Turner who, as a 22-year-old man, was convicted of three counts of rape in Stephens County near Lawton, Okla. In April 1977, he was sent to prison for three concurrent sentences of 30 to 60 years for those crimes, including — according to this story from an Oklahoma newspaper — the rape of an 80-year old woman who was beaten so badly that she was almost unrecognizable.

Turner claims he has turned his life around with Jesus.

Watch the Repeal 2223 video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Arkansas Baptist Pastor and Anti-LGBT Spokesman Exposed as Convicted Serial Rapist: VIDEO" »

Little Rock, Arkansas Approves LGBT Protections

Little Rock, Arkansas is pushing back against the recent bad publicity the state earned over its anti-gay 'relgious liberty' bill, the AP reports:

LittlerockThe ordinance approved by the city's board on a 7-2 vote bans discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in hiring and city services, including those offered through outside vendors.

...Arkansas lawmakers earlier this month approved a bill that was revamped in response to criticism from some of the state's largest employers — including mega-retailer Wal-Mart — that an initial version endorsed discrimination against gays and lesbians. Arkansas earlier this year also became the second state after Tennessee to bar local governments from expanding anti-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to the AP: " The new state law doesn't apply to a city and county's policies applying to its employees, which Little Rock's ordinance would cover. The Little Rock proposal goes a step further with the restriction on anyone who contracts with the city."

Federal Judge Declines To Lift Injunction Blocking FMLA Benefits For Gay Couples In 4 States


An untold number of gay workers in four states remain unable to take unpaid time off to care for their ailing spouses, after a federal judge in Texas declined to lift an injunction Friday. 

Last month, Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (shown with Sen. Ted Cruz) filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over a new labor department rule extending benefits under the Family & Medical Leave Act to same-sex couples who live in states that don't recognize their marriages. 

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, a President George W. Bush appointee, issued an order blocking the new FMLA rule from taking effect as scheduled on March 27 in Texas and three other states that joined Paxton's lawsuit — Arkansas, Louisiana and Nebraska.  

The U.S. Department of Justice appealed the order, but O'Connor declined to lift it during a hearing Friday, according to  

Paxton, a tea partier who took office in January and is under investigation for securities fraud, is also seeking to void the marriage of a 30-year lesbian couple, one of whom has ovarian cancer. 

Presumably, the Justice Department will appeal O'Connor's decision, which will be overturned anyway if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of nationwide marriage equality in June. 

The Family Medical & Leave Act grants workers 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year "to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition."  

So perhaps we should thank Paxton for drawing further attention to the tremendous harm inflicted by state same-sex marriage bans. 

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson Sees No Urgent Need for LGBT Protections Order

HutchinsonArkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson says an executive order protecting LGBT people from discrimination is not necessary after he signed a reworked "religious freedom" bill, the AP reports:

Hutchinson told reporters Thursday he had considered such an order as an alternative in case lawmakers didn't agree to his request to revise the religion bill after it faced widespread criticism that it was anti-gay. The Republican governor last week signed the compromise measure, which supporters say addresses discrimination concerns by more closely mirroring a 1993 federal law.

Advocates still want the governor to sign the order.

And this just in:

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Thursday he plans to move quickly to appoint special justices to replace members of the state Supreme Court who recused themselves from a new case spun off from a challenge to Arkansas’ ban on gay marriage.


Towleroad - Blogged