Smart Talk Nov. 11 

MARRIAGEPALOOZA: Huckabee's planned mass rite recalls Rev. Moon, here with his missus.
  • MARRIAGEPALOOZA: Huckabee's planned mass rite recalls Rev. Moon, here with his missus.
Solemn vows Gov. Mike Huckabee, perhaps burnishing his already stellar Religious Right credentials for a potential post in the second Bush administration, has devised a headline-grabber for Valentine’s Day. First reported by David Sanders, Republican lapdog for Stephens Media, Huckabee is planning a mass wedding ceremony that day at which he and his wife and perhaps thousands of others will enter “covenant marriages.” (It reminds us of the vast Moonie wedding that Sun Myung Moon held in 1997 in RFK Stadium in Washington.) Huckabee embarked on a publicly financed fly-around Monday and Tuesday to announce the mass nuptials. Huckabee still hasn’t fully explained why, since the covenant marriage law was passed in 2001, he and Janet haven’t gotten around to entering a deal that supposedly makes it harder to get divorced and requires counseling before unhappy partners may be freed. We say “supposedly” because the law has no automatic enforcement. If both partners are agreeable to a divorce, a circuit judge has no way to know a covenant marriage was entered in the first place. Then the divorce case is considered like any other, counseling or no counseling, fault or no fault. Judges report that covenant marriages have already been broken in Arkansas, sometimes on account of bipartite adultery. Honor roll The Arkansas Times endorses the right of people of the same sex to marry. Period. We understand that this is far from a majority view. But we also thought that the overreaching of proposed Amendment 3 might bring moderates into the opposition camp. The amendment does more than ban marriage. It bans civil unions. It raises vexing questions about privileges afforded unmarried family units, gay and straight. Arkansas voters saw it otherwise, voting 75-25 to adopt the amendment. Only two counties mustered opposition above 30 percent — Pulaski at 34.6 and Washington at 33.8. We are happy to report that 11 precincts in Pulaski County actually voted AGAINST the amendment, all in Little Rock. They were at Cammack Village City Hall, St. Paul Methodist, First Church of the Nazarene, Fire Station 10 in the Heights, Westover Hills Presbyterian, Woodlawn Baptist, Pulaski Heights Presbyterian, the Train Station, Woodruff Elementary, Arkansas Arts Center and Dunbar Recreation Center (where the governor votes and his wife worked the polls). Friendliest place for gay people in Arkansas? The neighborhood around Pulaski Heights Presbyterian, which voted 874 to 392, or 69 percent to 31 percent, against the amendment. Best of Washington Denise Whitaker covered her last Arkansas election from the Channel 4 anchor desk Nov. 2. Whitaker, chosen by our readers this year as the best news person in local television, surprised stationmates a couple of days before with news that she was moving on to a much bigger market. Whitaker will head for KOMO in Seattle, the ABC affiliate and No. 2 in a huge market, to host (hostess?) a morning show. She says it will be a welcome change of pace for her. No word yet on a replacement. Whitaker will stay through the next ratings period and depart at the first of December.

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