Same-Sex Marriage in Arkansas

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.

A federal appeals court has agreed to hear arguments this spring from three more states defending gay marriage bans.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday granted a request to consider an appeal from South Dakota at an expedited pace. South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says the court also combined the arguments with cases from Arkansas and Missouri.

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

A federal appeals court says it has received payment from the Arkansas Attorney General's Office one day after it threatened to dismiss the state's attempt to restore a gay marriage ban because of an outstanding $505 docketing fee.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals notified the state Jan. 7 that the money was due last Wednesday. The appeals court said Monday that Arkansas has two weeks to demonstrate why its appeal shouldn't be dropped.

Republican Attorney General-elect Leslie Rutledge at KUAR during the 2014 May Primary run-off.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to hold new oral arguments in the lawsuit challenging the state's gay marriage ban.

Rutledge, a Republican who was sworn in last week, on Friday asked for a new hearing in the state's appeal of a Pulaski County judge's decision striking down the ban as unconstitutional. Justices held oral arguments in the case in November, and have yet to issue a ruling.

Outgoing Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe says he remains opposed to allowing gay couples to marry despite recent rulings against his state's ban, but says he's eased his opposition to allowing them to enter into civil unions.

The two-term Democratic governor said Wednesday that he's changed his stance on some issues regarding gay rights, but still believes that marriage is between a man and a woman.

same-sex gay marriage larry crane
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A county clerk says he's prepared for same-sex marriages to return to the Bible Belt, even if his office is the only one in Arkansas ready or willing to do so.

The office of Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane distributed the largest share of licenses to gay couples when doing so was temporarily authorized for a week in May.

A federal judge Tuesday overturned Arkansas' ban on gay marriage, but she put her decision on hold pending a likely appeal.