Marriage equality advocates call for immediate compliance by state | Arkansas Blog

Friday, June 26, 2015

Marriage equality advocates call for immediate compliance by state

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 10:04 AM


I have calls in to state officials about the Arkansas response to the historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling for marriage equality. The Human Rights Campaign says state officials should move immediately to end discriminaton against same-sex couples.

In a sweeping and historic 5-4 ruling, today the Supreme Court of the United States found bans on marriage equality to be unconstitutional bringing the fundamental right to marry to hundreds of loving and committed same-sex couples in the Natural State. In celebration of the victory HRC Arkansas will be joined by other local advocacy groups for rallies and community events in Little Rock.

The majority opinion, authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy represents a clear mandate for Governor Asa Hutchinson, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, and officials all over the state of Arkansas, to cease their attempts to uphold these discriminatory statutes and start issuing marriage licenses to marrying same-sex couples.

“This is a historic day for all Americans and all Arkansans. Today, the Supreme Court upheld that equal justice under the law is a value that everyone is guaranteed in this great country,” said HRC Arkansas Director Kendra R. Johnson. “We call on Governor Hutchinson to immediately make the institution of marriage accessible to same sex couples and ensure that the ruling is fully implemented at every level.”

While this historic victory is a key step forward for achieving equal dreams in the Natural State, the fight for full equality in the South is far from over. As we move forward, HRC Arkansas will continue working to guarantee that the lived experience of LGBT people in Arkansas does not suffer as a result of this ruling, but is made richer and more fulfilled.

HRC President Chad Griffin added, “Today’s ruling makes perfectly clear that there is no legal or moral justification for standing in the path of marriage equality. Couples from Mississippi to North Dakota to Texas shouldn’t have to wait even a moment longer to be treated equally under the law. But what’s clear today is that our work isn’t done until every discriminatory law in this nation is wiped away. The time has come in this country for comprehensive federal LGBT non-discrimination protections. We now have to work harder than ever before to make sure LGBT Americans cannot be fired, evicted or denied services simply on the basis of the marriage license that they fought so hard to achieve.”

On April 28, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a case originating in Ohio. In January, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear Obergefell along with three other cases from Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee. The arguments were consolidated under the name Obergefell, and the questions posed by the court dealt with the constitutionality of marriage bans more broadly. Prior to today’s decision, marriage equality had come to 37 states as well as the District of Columbia – representing more than 70 percent of the U.S. population.

HRC Arkansas is working to advance equality for LGBT Arkansans who have no statewide protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations; and legal state recognition for their relationships and families. Through HRC Arkansas, we are working toward a future of fairness every day—changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.

To date, Gov. Asa Hutchinson has resisted any expression of support for equal treatment under the law for gay people, whether in marriage or in employment. Today is a time for something better than his past equivocal statements and support for state laws aimed at preserving a defense of discrimination against gay people.

A DF&A spokesman said the agency was guided by the attorney general, but said in matters of tax filing it never had a role in judging who was legally married or not. If a couple is married and files a return, it is processed on that basis.

President Obama cheered the ruling and said it would end the patchwork of treatment of gay couples across the United States. Let us hope.

ALSO: How about a party? Central Arkansas Pride, an advocacy group that sponsors the pride parade in Little Rock every fall said it is planning a mass wedding in celebration as well as a recognition event for key players in Arkansas in the fight for equality. Jennifer Pierce, chair of the Central Arkansas Pride board, also announced that the pride parade Oct. 11 (also National Coming Out Day) has a major new sponsor, the Little Rock Marriott Hotel.

“The presence such a large name such as the Marriott is huge deal for us here in Arkansas. Public support like that not only helps with the equality struggle but it’s also good for business” says Zack Baker, Sponsorship Director for Central Arkansas Pride. 

Indeed. It's a counterpoint to legislators and a governor who not only refuse to endorse equality but support legislation intended to prevent it, despite broad business community support for equal treatment of all.

AND ALSO: Mother Jones nominates Mike Huckabee for one of the worst reactions to the Supreme Court ruling (though maybe not so crazy as the preacher who vowed to set himself on fire.) Huckabee called for a massive disobedience campaign. Just how that would be manifested remains unclear. I bet it doesn't include refusal to accept campaign contributions or speaking fees from gay people.

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