Same-Sex Marriage in Arkansas

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.

Arkansas Supreme Court

The Arkansas Supreme Court has decided a separate case is needed before they can determine the legality of same-sex marriage - a move that will likely push the consideration until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the same topic.

The state Supreme Court on Thursday ruled a new case is needed to decide whether a justice sworn in in January should help decide whether gay marriage is legal in Arkansas. Justices originally heard oral arguments in November.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in April and have a decision by late June.

Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The Arkansas Senate approved two shell bills Wednesday night in hopes one could be used to pass a last-minute religious freedom act that would align with a federal law passed in 1993. Thursday is set as the last day of the session.

Left to right: Senate President Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy) and Governor Asa Hutchinson (R).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The national attention on "religious freedom" laws shifted from Indiana to Arkansas on Wednesday.

Arkansas received a heavy backlash from gay-rights groups and the business community with its bill that some say would allow discrimination of gay people. HB 1228 would let companies deny service to anyone if it conflicts with religious beliefs.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson had been saying as recently as last week that he would support the bill as it was written, but on Wednesday asked lawmakers to recall the legislation and make modifications.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

The Arkansas Legislature approved a bill Tuesday that would heighten judicial scrutiny in cases involving sincerely held religious beliefs. Opponents of HB1228 say it legalizes discrimination and will be used particularly against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people.

Following the passage of a religious freedom law in Indiana last week, business leaders with interests in that state and in Arkansas have spoken out against the laws, which extend strict scrutiny standards to religious beliefs in cases involving private companies.

HB 1228 religious freedom gay rights
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

On a day when renewed opposition from the state’s business community implored Gov. Asa Hutchinson to stop HB 1228, a bill dubbed the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” the Arkansas House passed three amendments to the measure that sealed the bill’s fate for the governor’s desk.