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story.lead_photo.caption Barbara Matchett of Vilonia joins other opponents of gay marriage Wednesday in prayer outside the Arkansas Supreme Court. ( Gavin Lesnick)

Supporters of a 2004 ballot measure that defined marriage in Arkansas as being between one man and one woman rallied Wednesday outside the state Capitol, urging the state's high court not to allow gay marriages, a day before oral arguments on the subject are scheduled.

About 300 people, most against gay marriage but some there to voice support for it, first gathered on the Capitol steps and listened as Family Council Director Jerry Cox, FRC Action Executive Director Josh Duggar and others asked the court not to reverse the 2004 vote. Then many in attendance marched to the Arkansas Supreme Court on the Capitol grounds, where they bowed their heads or kneeled in prayer.

The court on Thursday is set to hear oral arguments on an appeal of Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza's ruling earlier this year that allowed same-sex unions in the state for several days until the high court issued a stay. A federal hearing in U.S. District Court on gay marriage is also set for Thursday.

Duggar, the oldest child of the Tontitown family featured in the TLC reality show 19 Kids and Counting, said America's strong economy is linked to its strong families and strong faith, adding that there is an "agenda to silence us, to silence those of us who believe in what is right."

"Let me tell you, they're taking away your right to speak," he said. "And I call on the Arkansas Supreme Court to stand with the people and to honor their vote."

Afterward, Cox acknowledged several recent rulings in other parts of the country had come down in favor of gay marriage, and he said he thinks defending marriage as an exclusively heterosexual privilege it is an "uphill battle."

"The courts have tilted the field the other direction," he said. "Every time the people have had the chance to vote on marriage, almost every time, they define it as the union of a man and a woman. But when the courts get involved, it's almost like referees running onto the field saying, 'Let's change the score, we don't like the outcome.' That's what the people today are concerned about is judicial activism. We need to put a stop to that if we can."

Some at the rally voiced support for gay marriage, including Pastor Randy Eddy-McCain of Open Door Community Church in Sherwood. Eddy-McCain carried a sign reading "Christian Pastors for Marriage Equality," which he held up behind the speakers after organizers invited pastors to stand in the area.

Eddy-McCain said a man told him a short time later that he had to leave but he declined and stayed in place. A woman holding a sign in favor of heterosexual-only marriages then stood in front of him.

"I understand it, I grew up in Arkansas and I understand some of the thought processes," he said. "But as a person who is a pastor who has seen many gay/lesbian couples that are followers of Jesus ... we felt like we needed to be a voice for them."

See tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more on this story.

Gay-marriage opponents rally, pray ahead of hearing

At a rally Wednesday, supporters of traditional marriage urged the state Supreme Court not to uphold a lower court decision that allowed gay marriage in the state. (By Gavin Lesnick)
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Photo by Gavin Lesnick
FILE — Josh Duggar speaks at a rally at the state Capitol to urge the Arkansas Supreme Court not to uphold a ruling that allowed gay marriage in the state in this 2014 file photo.

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Archived Comments

  • cdawg
    November 19, 2014 at 2:46 p.m.

    Judicial activism: when done in my favor it's not activism and it's good. When not in my favor it's always horrible and a pure example of judges stepping out of their bounds.
    See when Chief Justice Roberts decides to amend Voting Rights Act of 1964 and eliminate the part about states with a long history of racial discrimination getting pre approval for changes to election requirements, a law in effect for 50yrs, that's not activism. But to a federal civil rights attorney it is activism.

  • cdawg
    November 19, 2014 at 2:53 p.m.

    >>"Let me tell you, they're taking away your right to speak," he said.

    Said Junior Duggar standing on public grounds, grounds in front of the highest Ark court
    cajoling a crowd to see things his way. These people have no shame. They can lie straight
    faced all day long and not bat an eye.

  • Slak
    November 19, 2014 at 2:54 p.m.

    Forgive them, cdawg. They know not what they do.

  • Garycmillerlawgmailcom
    November 19, 2014 at 3:11 p.m.

    I disagree with them, but they are just trying to express their no doubt sincere views. What makes America great.

    November 19, 2014 at 3:31 p.m.

    Ms. Matchett, get off your knees, quit with the embarrassing display of faux piety, and do something positive for the world.

  • JakeTidmore
    November 19, 2014 at 5:39 p.m.

    Fight hate with love. Support marriage equality!

  • rainbowharold55
    November 19, 2014 at 6:56 p.m.

    Crocodile tears masking their hate. And the laying on of hands on the Supreme Court Building is priceless.

  • oldguy1942
    November 19, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.

    Barbara Matchett could well be this century's Hazel Massery!

  • edo1962
    November 19, 2014 at 8:47 p.m.

    I join them in prayer. It's definitely needed in this confused world we live in. Pray for what our Children will have to put up with.

  • Green660
    November 19, 2014 at 9:15 p.m.

    why does anyone have to say they are Christian (gay or straight- who cares?) to feel like an honest, productive citizen of society.
    Most of the US is already changing their laws on marriage equality for all. Arkansas may be able to pull in a more educated workforce, and keep the ones who left the state if they open their doors a little.