LITTLE ROCK — The attorney general of Arkansas has given the go-ahead to a homosexual rights group to begin collecting signatures for a petition to place the revocation of the state marriage amendment on the 2014 ballot.
Dustin McDaniel approved the wording of the proposal, which was submitted by Christina Harrison of Arkansans for Equality. The attorney general must review all recommended ballot initiatives before groups may begin gathering signatures of support.
McDaniel told reporters with the Arkansas News that the initiative would not legalize same-sex marriage if passed, but would rather “revive the General Assembly’s authority to pass such laws relating to same-sex marriage as it deems appropriate.” State law also prohibits marriage as being defined outside of one man and woman, and would remain in place unless repealed in separate efforts by the legislature.
The Arkansas attorney general had rejected other proposals in recent months surrounding the issue, stating that they had “deficiencies” and may mislead residents into thinking that the measure would legalize homosexual “marriage in the state.”
“Fundraising is our first effort in having to get about 75,000 signatures,” Judd Mann of Arkansans for Equality told the Associated Press. “So we have a long, hard road ahead in front of us, but we are so excited.”
However, Jerry Cox of the Arkansas Family Council said that the organization would fight the initiative to ensure its defeat.
“Are we taking this seriously? Absolutely we are,” Cox told reporters. “It’s a serious thing to try to legalize same-sex marriage and we are going to oppose this effort. However, they are a long way from actually passing this measure.”
Arkansas’ marriage amendment was passed in 2004 with support from 75% of voters and over a million ballots cast.
“Marriage consists only of the union of one man and one woman,” it reads. “Legal status for unmarried persons which is identical or substantially similar to marital status shall not be valid or recognized in Arkansas, except that the legislature may recognize a common law marriage from another state between a man and a woman. The legislature has the power to determine the capacity of persons to marry, subject to this amendment, and the legal rights, obligations, privileges, and immunities of marriage.”
Montana, Oregon, Utah, Missouri, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky and Mississippi all voted in 2004 on similar amendments along with Arkansas, and Biblical marriage was affirmed in each.
McDaniel is a Democrat, and served one term in the state House of Representatives before being elected as attorney general. He is also a former 2014 gubernatorial candidate, but withdrew his nomination in January of this year after admitting to having an extramarital affair.
“I had hoped that I could shape the 2014 gubernatorial debate with my vision for the future,” McDaniel outlined in a prepared statement. “Unfortunately, I am now convinced that if I run for governor, this campaign would be about me personally, rather than Arkansas’s future.”