Seven legally-wed same-sex couples have petitioned an Arkansas judge to obtain the same parental rights that heterosexual couples currently have in the state of Arkansas. They are all legally married in states which recognize same-sex marriage and now are hoping to have their marriages recognized in AR.
AR Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and his office has not yet responded to the petition, which was filed on Thursday in Pulaski County.
The petition is in the form of a temporary restraining order request aiming to allow the couples to qualify for insurance and other benefits that legally recognized married couples already have access too.
This is the latest development in the fight for LGBT rights in Arkansas, and follows a recent setback in which Arkansas AG McDaniel dismissing a similar petition proposed by the same group.
“This lack of clarity has the potential to confuse and mislead voters,’ McDaniel wrote to the group’s co-founder, Jack Weir III, according to Arkansasbusiness.com.
In lieu of the recent legislative stubbornness, the injunction sought by these 7 couples could be a positive step for LGBT Arkansawyers, particularly those currently being deprived of parental rights.
In 2004, Arkansawyers voted on Amendment 83, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, into the state’s constitution by a disheartening margin of about 3 to 1. Additionally, the constitutional ban included a clause barring the recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages.
According to Jack Weir III, the lawyer for the couples and a veteran LGBT rights activist in Arkansas, the petition could be re-worded and consequently accepted within 3 years. “It’s a good time to educate the younger voters – those not 18 now but who will be,” Weir told Arkansasbusiness.com. “We want to get people mobilized.”
While the 10-year turnaround isn’t ideal by any standard, it certainly demonstrates progress is real, considering people of the belief that same-sex couples deserve equal rights were previously outnumbered by 300 percent.
Right now Arkansas is one of the 37 states that do not recognize the parental rights or marriages of same-sex couples.