Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Fourth Capitol monument proposed for committee consideration, with Update

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 2:23 PM

click to enlarge IN SESSION: Mark Martin chairs the Arts and Grounds Commission. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • IN SESSION: Mark Martin chairs the Arts and Grounds Commission.

The Arkansas Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission, under the leadership of Secretary of State Mark Martin, met briefly today on what are now four proposals for new additions to Capitol grounds monuments.

The meeting lasted long enough to divide review of the four proposals between two subcommittees, which will report later.

A fourth monument emerged today, from Gold Star Families, an organization dedicated to remembering those whose lives were lost in war.

It joins the legislatively approved Ten Commandments Monument, the Satanic Temple's statute of Baphomet and an atheist's proposal for a Wall of Separation, to symbolize the constitutional divide between church and state.

UPDATE: The main action at the Arkansas State Capitol Arts and Ground Commission meeting today was to bust members up into two, three-member subcommittees to consider the validity of the four monument proposals on the table, then set the dates to begin the public hearing process to determine whether they'll ever make it to the grounds.

Chief Deputy Secretary of State Kelly Boyd said today the monument proposals will all have to seek and win legislative approval before the monuments can be installed on the lawn of the Arkansas State Capitol. The Ten Commandments monument has already won the approval of the General Assembly.

CLARIFICATION: However, Secretary of State Mark Martin told the Associated Press that only the three new monuments, not the Ten Commandments, need legislative approval. And he indicated the tribute to the Biblical commandments is a cinch. The grounds commission need only be concerned by where and how, not if, it is placed.

"The Legislature made the law that the Ten Commandments go on the grounds. So ultimately the commission only has the authority to actually make sure that it's consistent with the aesthetics and the construction aspects and stuff like that is actually being complied with," Martin told reporters after the meeting. "So as far as saying, 'No, it can't be,' we don't have the authority to do that."

Noting that "three of the submissions are a little bit different than one of them," Boyd said prior to the selection of the subcommittees that the Gold Star, Atheist and Satanic Temple submissions, if selected to move forward by the commission, "still have to have legislative authorization. It will be the Secretary [of State]'s responsibility to present legislation to the General Assembly to move that forward. We've got a number of monuments and memorials on the grounds. All have gone through the same process, including the recently completed Arkansas Firefighter's Memorial." 

Subcommittee 1 will consider the monument proposals submitted by the Gold Star Families and the Saline Atheist & Skeptic Society. That subcommittee will consist of Randall Bynum, Julie Harris and architect Dave Roberts. Their first meeting will be Thursday, Nov. 10 at 10 a.m., at a location to be arranged by the Secretary of State's Office. 

Subcommittee 2 will consider the monument proposals submitted by the American History & Heritage Foundation, Inc — whose "historic monument" to the Biblical Ten Commandments has already been approved by the Arkansas State Legislature — and The Satanic Temple's statue of Baphomet.  That subcommittee will consist of Melonaie Gullnick, Kelly Van Hook, and architect Tony Leraris. Their first meeting will be Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 11 a.m. at a location also to be determined.

Boyd said there will be at least four meetings for each subcommittee before a final decision. 

Outside the Old Supreme Court chambers after the meeting, ACLU attorney Holly Dickson said that ACLU-Arkansas has warned about the un-Constitutional nature of the Ten Commandments monument since the bill seeking its approval was first filed. She said that if it is approved or installed, litigation is inevitable. 

"It's a new monument that shows government preferring one brand of religion over another," Dickson said. "That is contrary to the principles in the law on which our nation was founded. We've seen this play out in other areas. You can call something historical all you want, but if it's brand new, it's not a historical marker. That's what I would anticipate that a case would turn on."

Dickson then introduced reporters to Little Rock attorney Gerry Schulze, who identified himself as a member of the Arkansas Freethinkers. Schulze said he has also represented the American Humanist Association in the past. Schulze said that if either the Ten Commandments Monument or Satanic Temple monument is approved for installation on the Capitol grounds, he will be filing a lawsuit on behalf of many concerned individuals in Arkansas and possibly members of other groups who have consulted with him, including Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the American Humanist Association. 

"I'm here today to try to encourage the State of Arkansas not to pay me a lot of money," Schulze said. "If we have to challenge this, it will be a civil rights case, there will be civil rights attorney's fees that we will attach, and as we've seen many times before when legislatures attempt to do things that are clearly unconstitutional, it ends up costing the state a lot of money. So I'm here today to ask the State of Arkansas not to pay me a bunch of money." 

Tags: , , , , ,


Speaking of...

  • Location selected for 10 Commandments monument on Capitol grounds, Baphomet monument still undecided

    October 12, 2016
    A meeting of a subcommittee of the Arkansas State Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission was held today, with the three-member group asking questions about materials and construction of the 10 Commandments Monument and the Baphomet statue proposed by The Satanic Temple. A proposed site was selected for the 10 Commandments Monument, but an official with the Church of Satan, after being told their monument couldn't be placed directly beside the 10 Commandments monument as they had requested in their proposal, will be allowed to select their preferred site at a later date. /more/
  • Satanic Temple announces temporary home for Baphomet

    September 14, 2016
    The Satanic Temple has purchased a former funeral home in Salem, Mass.for an international headquarters and says it "will also house the seven-and-a-half foot tall bronze statue of Baphomet until an offer to donate the statue for presentation on Arkansas State Capitol grounds alongside the Ten Commandments is accepted." /more/
  • Vox pop: Mixed response to Capitol monument proposals

    September 12, 2016
    AP reports on feedback the secretary of state's office is receiving via a hotline on proposals to put monuments on the Capitol grounds — specifically a legislatively authorized 10 Commandments monument or the Satanic Temple's idea for a statue of Baphomet. /more/
  • Democrats continue to press Mark Martin on voter purge information

    September 7, 2016
    The Arkansas Democratic Party remains unsatisfied with Secretary of State Mark Martin's response to its efforts to find information underlying Martin's decision to circulate a badly flawed list of supposed felons for county clerks to strike from voter rolls. /more/
  • Another Capitol monument proposal from Saline Atheist and Skeptic Society

    September 7, 2016
    Another group has emerged with an idea for a Capitol monument to join the forum that would be created if Secretary of State Mark Martin forges ahead with placement of the legislatively approved Ten Commandments monument. A society of "atheists and skeptics" proposes a brick "Wall of Separation." /more/
  • One person, one vote

    September 1, 2016
    Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin's recent stumbles have revealed quite a story. /more/
  • FBI: Attempts made to hack state voter systems

    August 29, 2016
    Foreign hackers' efforts to penetrate two states' election databases have prompted a warning from the FBI about election security. In Arkansas, the man in charge, Secretary of State Mark Martin, has already proved a dubious protector of voting rights. /more/
  • Satanic Temple: Make Rapert pay for Ten Commandments monument

    August 28, 2016
    A petition drive has begun to encourage a demand that Sen. Jason Rapert pay for the legal fees in defending his Ten Commandments monument proposed for the state Capitol grounds. It's more work by the Satanic Temple, which has fought church-state entanglement around the country. /more/
  • The flaw in Republican effort to find voter fraud

    August 26, 2016
    Here's the Greg Palast article in Rolling Stone on the voter purge plan devised by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The cross-check system, in which Arkansas participates, is badly flawed and improperly identifies many voters. /more/
  • The Republican junta at work in election oversight

    August 26, 2016
    Surprise. The Republican-controlled state Election Commission chose a Republican foot solider and father of the Republican attorney general to lead the election oversight agency. Secretary of State Mark Martin, under fire for election handling irregularities, orchestrated the pick. Feel better now? /more/
  • More »

Comments (28)

Showing 1-28 of 28

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-28 of 28

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Fort Smith mosque vandalized

    Fort Smith's Al Salam mosque was vandalized Thursday morning.
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • The open line and headlines

    Here's the Thursday open line and mid-afternoon news roundup.
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • Kochs spread money around Arkansas

    The Koch Industries PAC spread a lot of money around in September, including significant sums in state legislative races around the country. All politics is local when you have a big polluting industry to look after.
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • More details on Rep. Justin Harris' influence at Human Services

    Today, Spencer Willems of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette examined closely DHS e-mail records between Harris and Cecile Blucker, head of the Division of Children and Family Services, that point in very specific ways to Harris' wielding of that influence and of DHS' catering to his interests.
    • Mar 15, 2015
  • Mary Steenburgen adds voice against gay discrimination law

    Mary Steenburgen, the Arkansas native actress, has added her voice to those opposing HB 1228, the bill aimed at preserving legal discrimination against gay people under the pretext of religious freedom. It would create untold other complications for all sorts of government activities to give people a religious excuse to avoid the law.
    • Mar 3, 2015
  • Justin Harris comments on adoption report; Speaker Gillam says issue in past tense. We disagree.

    Rep. Justin Harris spoke to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette yesterday about her story of his adoption and then transfer of two daughters to a man who raped one of them. Questions remain.
    • Mar 5, 2015

Most Shared

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments



© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation