LITTLE ROCK — For the second time in a month, the state attorney general Monday rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would repeal Arkansas’ same-sex marriage ban.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel cited "misleading tendencies" and a failure to identify the measure’s effect on Amendment 83 in a July 15 opinion rejecting the initial submission by the group Arkansans for Equality. On Monday, McDaniel said procedural irregularities prevented him from certifying a name and ballot title — a prerequisite for gathering signatures to put the measure on the ballot.
McDaniel said the material the group submitted — a lengthy "title" explaining what the measure would do and a "summary" of its effect on Amendment 83 — did not clearly identify a ballot title for a proposed constitutional amendment, nor did it include the actual text of the proposed constitutional amendment the group seeks to have adopted.
"This is not an exhaustive list of ambiguities or misleading aspects of the material you have submitted," McDaniel said, but rather guidance to help clarify the process of any resubmission.
The intent of the proposal is to repeal Amendment 83, passed by 75 percent of voters in 2004, which defines marriage as solely between one man and one woman, and does not allow recognition of civil unions or other relationships substantially similar to marriage from other states.
The proposal would neither legalize same-sex marriage in Arkansas nor force religious institutions to acknowledge or perform such marriages, but would allow the state to recognize any relationships that do not violate Arkansas laws or statutes.
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.
Last month, Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality submitted wording to McDaniel’s office for a proposed ballot measure that would repeal Amendment 83 and legalize same-sex marriage in the state.
Also, a same-sex Arkansas couple married in Idaho filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit and three same-sex couples filed suit in federal court lawsuit, all claiming the state’s gay marriage ban violates their constitutional rights.