LITTLE ROCK — A proposed ballot measure that would repeal the 2004 constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage in Arkansas was rejected by Attorney General Dustin McDaniel on Friday.
The attorney general said the proposal by Arkansans for Equality contained misleading tendencies and a failure to include any mention of the proposal’s effect on the state’s current law, Amendment 83, which was approved with 75 percent of the vote.
The proposal also failed to meet the state Supreme Court’s requirement for impartiality.
“Specifically, rather than simply describing Amendment 83 to the Arkansas Constitution (the amendment proposed to be repealed), your proposed ballot title asserts an abridgment of undefined ‘rights’ and seems to presume Amendment 83’s illegality in terms of federal law and the laws of other states,” the opinion said.
“It is conclusory and partisan to assert that Amendment 83 ‘limits’ Arkansans’ ‘rights’ and ‘prevents federal laws … being applied in a consistent manner,’” the opinion said. “To use such terms and phrases is to promote by implication, not to summarize, a proposal. As a consequence, the proposed ballot title has misleading tendencies and fails to meet the Arkansas Supreme Court’s requirement of impartiality.”
Arkansans for Equality submitted its proposal a day after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The ruling makes same-sex married couples eligible for federal benefits, but the nation’s highest court left it to individual states to decide who can marry.
The justices, in a separate but related case, cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California without establishing a constitutional right for gays to marry in all states.
Judd Mann, co-chairman of Arkansans for Equality, said the group hopes to get the proposal on the 2014 general election ballot.
Earlier this week, Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality submitted wording to the state attorney general for a proposed ballot measure that would repeal Amendment 83, which defines marriage as only between one man and one woman and bans gay marriage and civil unions.
That proposed constitutional amendment for the 2016 ballot would legalize same-sex marriage in the state.
Last week, a same-sex Arkansas couple married in Idaho filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court challenging the gay marriage ban.
The lawsuit by White County residents Kendall and Julia Wright argues that the 2004 constitutional amendment violates their constitutional rights.