These may not be the very most optimistic words in the English language right now, but they’re up there:
The Arkansas Marriage Equality Amendment
AN AMENDMENT TO THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION TO PROVIDE THAT THE RIGHT TO MARRY SHALL NOT BE ABRIDGED OR DENIED ON ACCOUNT OF SEX OR SEXUAL ORIENTATION – PROVIDING THAT NO MEMBER OF THE CLERGY OR RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION SHALL BE REQUIRED TO PROVIDE ACCOMMODATIONS ADVANTAGES, FACILITIES OR PRIVILEGES RELATING TO THE SOLEMNIZATION OR CELEBRATION OF MARRIAGE AND THAT THE REFUSAL TO DO SO SHALL NOT CREATE ANY CIVIL CLAIM OR CAUSE OF ACTION.
Yes, that is the actual preamble to a proposed referendum for marriage equality in bright-red Arkansas. Repeating: In Arkansas.
Trey Weir of the Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality tells us they started meeting the day after the 2012 elections, when voters in Maine, Washington and Maryland all approved marriage equality measures. Weir notes that Arkansas approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex couples from marriage in 2004. The vote – the last in Arkansas on the issue since then – went 75-25.
With today’s Supreme Court ruling, maybe Weir’s quiet goal becomes that much more possible to achieve. We’ve begun tracking nascent movements like Arkansas’ in states all across the country. More on that later, but know for now that some amount to not much more than a point person and email address, and some, like the one in Arkansas, are actively crafting measures and getting ready to collect signatures. In Arkansas, they’re trying for the ballot in 2016. Weir says that for now, it matters just to make the effort:
We have hopes that the snowball effect of LGBT rights will find its way to Arkansas and the rest of the south in the near future. Our success rate is not seeing it get passed but also educating Arkansans on the issue… . We hope that our efforts will put marriage equality and other LGBT issues on the fast track in the right direction here in Arkansas.
Nothing gets a ball rolling like pushing it. If you’re out there in red states or anti-equality states and you know of a marriage movement, sing out in the comments, please.
(H/t interns Katie Riley and Carl Dawson for reporting.)