Same-Sex Marriage in Arkansas

Data-services company Acxiom is urging Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto a "religious freedom" bill, with the firm's executives arguing the measure enables discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The Little Rock-based company's chief executive officer and executive vice president on Monday wrote Hutchinson opposing the measure heading toward a final vote in the House. The proposal would prohibit state and local government from infringing upon someone's religious beliefs without a "compelling" government interest.

Bob Ballinger
arkansashouse.org

A proposal aimed at protecting religious beliefs that opponents say allows widespread discrimination against gays and lesbians is advancing to the Arkansas House for a final vote.

Talk Business & Politics

On Thursday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson officially named Mike Preston as the new executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, the state agency charged with recruiting and retaining jobs. Preston comes from Enterprise Florida, that state’s economic development arm.

Preston appeared on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, which will be broadcast Monday at 6:06 p.m. on KUAR.

Preston, 32, spent six years with Enterprise Florida and also worked for a State Representative and State Senator in the Florida Legislature.

A federal judge says she won't allow same-sex marriages in Arkansas while the issue is pending before an appeals court.

Lawyers claim gay couples are suffering continuing harm by not being allowed to marry. U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker struck down Arkansas' ban against same-sex marriages in November but issued a stay pending an appeal. The same-sex couples asked Baker to lift the stay, but the judge said Wednesday court rules won't let her.

The Arkansas attorney general's office is asking a federal judge who struck down the state's gay marriage ban to not allow same-sex couples resume marrying.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office on Monday asked U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker to not lift the stay she put on her ruling last year striking down a 2004 voter-approved amendment and earlier state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Baker suspended her ruling while the state appealed, but the couples challenging the ban have asked her to lift that stay.

A "conscience-protection" proposal that critics say is an attempt to sanction discrimination against gays and lesbians has failed before an Arkansas legislative panel.

The Senate Judiciary Committee rejected the proposal to ban any local or state laws or regulations that substantially burden religious beliefs unless a "compelling governmental interest" is proven.

The House-backed measure faced mounting criticism from businesses, local governments and advocacy groups. They said it targeted gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.

Arkansas has become the second state to ban local governments from expanding anti-discrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday allowed legislation barring cities or counties from prohibiting discrimination on a basis not covered by state law to become law without his signature. It will take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.

Arkansas' anti-discrimination protections don't include sexual orientation or gender identity.

Gay marriage same-sex marriage Arkansas
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The couples challenging Arkansas' gay marriage ban are asking the state's highest court to lift its stay in the case and allow clerks to resume issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

The couples on Tuesday asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to lift its stay of a Pulaski County judge's ruling that a 2004 constitutional amendment and earlier state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman was unconstitutional. Justices suspended Judge Chris Piazza's ruling in May while they considered the appeal.

Eureka Springs Passes Anti-Discrimination Ordinance As Legislature Considers Ban

Feb 10, 2015
bart hester
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

   

A bill that would prohibit cities and counties from enacting anti-discrimination ordinances not reflected in state law is now headed to the Arkansas House. It was passed Monday in the Senate by a vote of 24-8.

The bill’s introduction by Republican Sen. Bart Hester followed the passage, then repeal of a local ordinance in Fayetteville that included protections for people based on gender identification and sexual orientation.

The Arkansas Supreme Court wants lawyers in a gay-marriage case to tell it which justices they believe should decide the issue.

The makeup of Arkansas' highest court changed Jan. 1 - six weeks after oral arguments. The state's new attorney general wants new arguments, but lawyers for gay couples object.

In an unsigned order Thursday, the justices gave both sides 30 days to say why their argument should prevail.

A Pulaski County judge last May overturned Arkansas' same-sex marriage ban and 541 gay couples obtained licenses before justices imposed a stay.

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