A little under one week after Arkansas’s Supreme Court stayed a ruling overturning the state’s same-sex marriage ban hundreds gathered Thursday to urge the court to uphold the ban. KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman reports.
Over 200 supporters of the state’s 2004 constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman took to the state Capitol steps in one of the largest public displays the state has seen on the issue.
Pastor Derick Easter called for unity and the imposition of a biblical definition of marriage.
“We believe the term marriage has only one meaning and that is marriage sanctioned by God which joins one man and one woman in a single exclusive union as delineated in scripture. Changes in the civil law do not, indeed can not, change the moral law,” said Easter.
The crowd, almost entirely comprised of African-American churchgoers, coupled asking for gays to confess their sins with expressions of love and compassion.
“The church’s opposition to same-sex marriage neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility toward homosexual men and women. Always reminding church members of their obligation of love, kindness, and humanity towards all people,” said Easter.
Jerry Cox with the Arkansas Family Council and State Senator Jason Rapert (R-Bigelow) were also in attendance and both said time constraints limited their ability to get members of their own churches to the rally.
Karen Bell attended with her young daughter and argued same-sex marriage hurts her family.
“I want her to grow up in a world where truth is valued and family values are valued. I want her to know that God’s word is what is true. I don’t want her to be confused by these messages coming in that are false,” said Bell.
Around a dozen counter-protestors interjected remarks throughout the rally. Speaking afterward a supporter of same-sex marriage, Micah Qualls, said it struck her as odd to hear words of love with statements casting gay couples as something other than equal.
“It’s literally ludicrous to try to couch or veil any of this hate speech. It’s irrelevant to use religion because we have a strict separation of church and state in America. Thank goodness for the forefathers and the Constitution of the United States,” said Qualls.
The Ecumenical Coalition of Faith Leaders of Arkansas organized the rally and did not shy away from coupling church with state. Both the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance proceeded an opening prayer. In many respects the rally resembled a worship service with the singing of church songs, numerous prayers, and the assertion state laws should resemble laws in the Bible.
I’m Jacob Kauffman, KUAR News