The Arkansas Legislative Council has approved a resolution opposing gay marriage a month after a vote on it was blocked.
The nonbinding resolution, sponsored by state Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, expresses support for Amendment 83, the 2004 state amendment that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. It also asks the state Supreme Court to invalidate several hundred gay marriages issued after Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled the state's bans unconstitutional last month and calls his decision "an abuse of his judicial authority."
Rapert's resolution, which was also signed by 58 other legislators, passed Friday by a voice vote after about a half hour of discussion.
"What was accomplished was standing up for the will of the people of this state," Rapert told reporters shortly after the resolution passed. "750,000 people voted for Amendment 83 in 2004. It was clearly their will. Surveys in Arkansas show that that opinion has changed very little at all since that particular time."
Before the vote, Sen. David Johnson, D-Little Rock, said the resolution is "incorrect and false" and Rep. John Walker, D-Little Rock, called it a civil and human rights issue as he spoke against it.
"When people are born, they become entitled to equal rights," Walker said. "... And they have the right to make their choices. And the courts are obliged to respect that."
The council decided earlier in the meeting to include in the minutes for its previous meeting a letter from Rapert protesting rulings that blocked a vote on the resolution in May. The body voted to add the letter to the minutes and to work with staff in a subcommittee to clarify "certain discrepancies" in the rules.
Rapert's letter complained procedural rulings made by chairman Rep. John Edwards, D-Little Rock, in May incorrectly blocked the resolution from being considered.
"I would also appreciate the chairman addressing the mistakes that were made and apologizing for the confusion this has caused for all members and the mishandling of the resolution," Rapert wrote in the June 9 letter. "Had the proceedings of the meeting been conducted appropriately, the resolution to support Amendment 83 would have clearly been passed by the majority of members present and voting — the voice vote in favor of suspension of the rules to consider the resolution was a clear majority and 56 members of the legislature indicated their support as co-sponsors of the resolution."
— Gavin Lesnick
A state senator will try again to win passage of a resolution asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to uphold a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.
In May, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled the state gay marriage ban unconstitutional. Over the next week, more than 500 same-sex couples obtained marriage licenses before the state Supreme Court issued a stay and said it would look at an appeal by the state. On Friday, Republican Sen. Jason Rapert of Conway intends to ask the Legislative Council to approve a resolution to keep the ban as state law.
Rapert failed in his first attempt on May 16 to get the non-binding measure to a vote before the panel.
— The Associated Press