As supporters of same-sex unions around the country celebrate recent rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, activists are continuing the fight to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states.
At the Clinton School of Public Service Monday, Hope native Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign spoke of his organization's efforts to challenge laws banning gay marriage.
He called for Arkansas' elected officials to support a civil right he says would mean equal treatment for more citizens.
“We need the leadership of those who are elected in this state, in Washington, to be with us on this issue,” said Griffin. “Some of the elected officials here are undecided or at least haven't publicly expressed their views on these issues and we need them. Both of the Senators of this state, quite frankly, should be supportive of something that's such a basic fairness.”
Griffin said his organization will push for an amendment to overturn Arkansas's gay marriage ban while promoting a nationwide bill that would end workplace discrimination against homosexuals.
“So you're going to be hearing a lot more of us in this state because as we make progress on that bill, we're going to be in communities and states across this country where our members of congress have to go on weekends — every single weekend — and face their constituents. And they need to hear from all of you,” said Griffin addressing a standing-room-only crowd in Sturgis Hall , during the discussion moderated by former State Representative Kathy Webb.
Arkansas's Economic Development Director Grant Tenille joined Griffin and other advocates in supporting same-sex marriage at the Capitol on Monday morning.
He told KUAR News the state would benefit economically by legalizing gay marriage because it would show companies that Arkansas is friendly to a valuable workforce.
“We're not talking about inconsequential companies,” said Tenille, “we're talking about major brands in the United States. And I think that increasingly, companies make decisions about where they want to locate based on where their employees will be the happiest.”
Arkansas remains one of 37 states that bans gay marriage.