Arkansas: Still A Civil Rights Frontier

Pat Gozemba and Karen Kahn have been invited to share the message of marriage equality at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Their talk is entitled “Marriage Equality: A 21st Century Civil Rights Struggle.” At the flagship campus of the university, they are being sponsored by the School of Law and the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

The authors see the appropriateness of bringing their struggle to Arkansas the scene of such heroic struggle 50 years ago at Little Rock High School.

In 2004 Arkansas voters amended their constitution to prohibit marriage equality by a 3 to 1 margin. Now the Little Rock-based Family Council that spear-headed the constitutional amendment is at it again. They are working to get on the ballot for 2008 an initiative that would ban unmarried couples from adopting or fostering children. (That’s gay and lesbians–especially.)

The first draft of the Family Council initiative was rejected by the state attorney general  as too partisan for inclusion on a ballot. According to Laura Kellams of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Family Council wanted to include on the ballot a statement that “referred to marriage as the ideal child-rearing environment and to ‘cohabiting’ households as more prone to instability, poverty, and other societal ills.”

Jerry Cox president of the Family Council wanted that language on the ballot but will do what he needs to do to get the attorney general to approve the initiative–including toning down the initial language.

This current initiative would not be a constitutional amendment but it would become state law if passed by the voters. It would take a two-thirds majority of the legislature to remove the law.

Currently lesbians and gays are tacitly excluded from fostering or adopting children. Opponents to equality are looking to lock in that inequality.

The University of Arkansas has sexual orientation as a protected class in its Affirmative Action program. Their are no benefits for LGBT people and their significant others. Arkansas is still on the civil rights frontier. More

One response to “Arkansas: Still A Civil Rights Frontier

  1. Good luck in Arkansas – it was great seeing the presentation in Marblehead tonight!

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