Same-Sex Marriage in Arkansas

A vote on an anti-discrimination ordinance is dividing a northwest Arkansas town that's known both for an outdoor play depicting Jesus' final days and as a gay-friendly tourist destination.

Voters in Eureka Springs will decide Tuesday whether to keep a measure that would prohibit the city and private businesses from discriminating against someone based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Keeping the measure could prompt a broader legal fight over a state law that takes effect later this year aimed at preventing such local protections.

The Arkansas Supreme Court says its current lineup of justices should decide whether to legalize gay marriage in the state.

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

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has deferred arguments and a decision on four same-sex marriage cases until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the issue.

The court announced Wednesday that it's holding off on "any further consideration" of the cases from South Dakota, Arkansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Arguments were scheduled to begin on May 12 in Omaha, Nebraska.

All four states are appealing federal judges' decisions to overturn gay marriage bans.

The Supreme Court began hearing arguments Tuesday and could decide by June whether gay couples can marry nationwide.

Officials in Arkansas' most populous county and one of its most popular tourist destinations are considering prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, expanding the pushback against a new state law criticized as anti-gay.

A member of the Hot Springs city board said Tuesday she's proposing prohibiting the city and its vendors from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. A member of Pulaski County's quorum court said he's drafting a similar anti-discrimination ordinance.

The mayor of Jonesboro has said a proposal from Arkansas State University students to add protections for gays and lesbians to the city's anti-discrimination policy is unnecessary.

The Jonesboro Sun reports Mayor Harold Perrin made his announcement Tuesday. He says the language in the city's personnel handbook is broad enough to cover all types of discrimination.

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has selected a former Supreme Court justice, a circuit judge and a Searcy attorney to help decide a case related to the challenge over the state's gay marriage ban.

Leslie Rutledge attorney general
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says whether gay marriage is legal in the state should be decided by the current state Supreme Court, not the justices who heard oral arguments in the case last year.

Rutledge said in a motion filed Monday that a retired state Supreme Court justice and a special justice appointed to the case should not participate in the proceedings since both spots on the court have been replaced. The court said the dispute over who should participate in the appeal must be addressed before it decides whether gay marriage should be legal.

Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he plans to move quickly to appoint three special justices to hear a case before the state Supreme Court related to a challenge over the ban on same-sex marriage.

Two members of Arkansas' Supreme Court - including the chief justice - are complaining that a separate case created over a challenge to the state's gay marriage ban is causing an unnecessary delay.

HB 1228 religious freedom gay rights
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Hundreds of supporters and opponents of Arkansas' religious conscience bill that has been criticized as anti-gay stood divided at the state Capitol steps.

One group urged Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto any and all proposals to prohibit state and local governments from infringing upon someone's religious beliefs and held signs reading "Arkansans are equal" and "Love one another." They say the bill would sanction discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Another crowd held prayers and said people of all faiths need protection and that the change wouldn't harm the gay community.

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