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Same sex marriage (SSM) in Arkansas

2014-MAY: Part 7:
State supreme court stays ruling.
Recent public opinion poll data.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay.

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wedding rings2014-MAY-16: Arkansas Supreme Court grants a stay:

On Friday, MAY 16, the Arkansas Supreme Court granted the Attorney General's request to stay the County Court ruling. It offered no explanation. However, the court decision was probably influenced by an earlier situation in Utah where the federal Circuit Court of Appeals refused to issue a stay, and the state was able to obtain one from the U.S. Supreme Court.

More than 540 same-sex couples were able to marry before marriage inequality was once more imposed on the same-sex couples in the state. 1,2 It is quite possible that the State of Arkansas will follow the lead of Utah by refusing to recognize these marriages as valid. However, it is probable that the federal Government will accept them as real marriages and extend to the couples and their children access to the 1,138 federal benefits and protections that had previously been restricted to opposite-sex married couples.

The Guardian newspaper reported:

"A lawyer for the couples suing over Arkansas' ban said they'd now focus on the appeal before the state supreme court and was confident the state's prohibition would ultimately be struck down. McDaniel's office said the order ended the uncertainty for the state's clerks. ..."

"The head of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest US lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights group, said he was hopeful Arkansas' ban would eventually fall.

'We're confident that when the supreme court hears this case, they'll choose to be on the right side of history,' said HRC President Chad Griffin, an Arkansas native. The group has asked the Justice Department to extend federal recognition to the couples." 5

CNN reports that:

"Carl Tobias, a constitutional law professor at the University of Richmond, said Friday that he expects more challenges in state courts to same-sex marriage prohibitions. Still, Tobias thinks advocates are more likely to take their fight to federal court.

'Plaintiffs have preferred to sue in federal courts in the apparent belief that they are a more favorable venue, or that federal judges will view their rights more broadly,' said Tobias."

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2014-MAY: Polls show how Arkansas public feel about SSM compared to other Americans:

As of early 2014-MAY, the latest national poll was by Washington Post/ABC. It found that:

  • 59% of adults favor same-sex marriage;

  • 34% of adults oppose same-sex marriage;

  • 7% were undecided or did not respond.

In national polls, support has been rising -- and opposition falling -- since before the turn of the century. A graph of Washington Post/ABC polls from 2003 to 2014 shows:

Support/Opposition for SSM: 2003 to 2013

However, Arkansas is a southern state, was once part of the Confederacy, and remains much more conservative than the national average concerning marriage equality and other topics. One would expect less support and more opposition to same-sex marriage in the state.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) reported on the results of a poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Target Point Consulting which sampled public opinion on 2013-JUN-26 to 30 -- about one year before same-sex marriages became available in Arkansas:

  • 38% favor same-sex marriage

  • 55% oppose same-sex marriage

  • 7% were undecided or did not respond. 3

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The opinions of adults in Arkansas in mid-2013 closely match those of the nation back about 2008. Opinion in that state should be very close to evenly divided about the year 2020.

HRC remarked -- with a comment somewhat lacking in sensitivity towards this webmaster and other senior citizens -- that:

"... 61 percent of those younger than 30 support marriage equality. Time will march on. Opposition is, literally, dying out." 3

A poll by the New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation was conducted during the second week of 2014-APR in Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and North Carolina. Results showed that support for same-sex marriage ranged from 35% to 44% with opposition ranging from 49% to 57%. Arkansas had the lowest level of support for same-sex marriage and the highest level of opposition from among the four southern states polled. Their question 34 asked:

"Do you think it should be legal or not legal for same-sex couples to marry? Results for Arkansas were:

  • Legal: 35%
  • Not legal: 57%
  • Didn't know or refused to answer: 8%
The poll also found that, at 52%, Arkansas had the highest percentage of self-identified evangelicals of the four states. They were tied at 73% with North Carolina for the highest percentage of Protestants. Arkansas had the highest level, at 24%, of individuals who attend religious services more than once a week. They had the highest level, at 43%, of individuals who considered themselves politically conservative. 4

1,027 adults were polled in Arkansas, of whom 857 were registered voters. The margin of error was ±3 percentage points.

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This topic is continued in the following essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Paresh Dave, "Arkansas Supreme Court halts same-sex marriages, Los Angeles Times, 2014-MAY-16, at:
  2. "Arkansas: Same-Sex Marriages Are Halted," New York Times, 2014-MAY-16, at:
  3. Human Rights: Arkansas attitudes improving on gay equality; state leader speaks up," Arkansas Times, 2013-JUL-08, at:
  4. "Full Results of The New York Times/Kaiser Family Foundation Poll," The New York Times, 2014-APR-23, at:
  5. "Arkansas supreme court orders halt to same-sex marriages," The Guardian, 2014-MAY-17, at:

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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2014-MAY-16
Latest update: 2014-MAY-20
Author: B.A. Robinson

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