In 2004, Arkansas constituents—and voters in ten other states—voted to amend the state constitution with a measure advanced by church groups and conservatives, to limit marriage to one man and one woman. They also called to ban civil unions.
The state constitution now says “marriage consists only of the union of one man and one woman” and that “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.”
Sadly, supporters pushed for the amendment even though, legally, gay marriage was already banned in the state.
Among the voters were some who did not outwardly support gay marriage, but still felt that it was a moral issue which should be left up to individuals, not the state. Another said she was against writing discrimination into the state’s constitution.
Some little progress should be noted, however. Judge Chris Piazza, an Arkansas circuit court judge, rejected the state’s 2008 voter-approved–fifty-seven percent–ban on unmarried couples from adopting children or acting as foster parents. The law claims to apply to heterosexual and same-sex couples but inevitably, the former will be much less affected than the latter. He ruled that this law resulted in “burden[ing] non-marital relationships and acts of sexual intimacy between adults by forcing them to choose between becoming a parent and having any meaningful type of intimate relationship outside of marriage.”
Former Governor Mike Huckabee was very much in favor of the law keeping unmarried couples, i.e. gay couples, from adopting or being foster parents because “children are not puppies.”
He also claims that historically, marriage has always meant one man and one woman. Although he is no longer in office, his views may still carry some weight in his native Arkansas.
- Can same-sex couples get married in Arkansas? No.
- Can same-sex couples enter into civil unions or domestic partnerships in Arkansas? No.