Tolbert: AG Candidate Steel Disagrees With McDaniel On Same Sex Marriage

by Jason Tolbert ([email protected]) 99 views 

Last week, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced that he personally supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, but the Democratic candidate vying to replace him tells me that he does not share this view.

The split is another example of the diverse views that still exist on this issue within the Democratic Party as more party leaders, such as McDaniel, announce support for marriage equality following President Obama’s announcement last year.

McDaniel made the announcement at the Associated Press Managing Editors conference last Saturday saying, “I want to tell you I do support marriage equality and I do believe Arkansans should have the right to be equal in the eyes of the law. It’s become more and more difficult for me to accept the idea of anyone being treated as a second class citizen.”

But State Rep. Nate Steel — the only Democrat seeking to replace to term-limited McDaniel — disagrees.

“I support the traditional definition of marriage,” Steel tells the Tolbert Report. “Again, the constitution is clear and my job is to defend it regardless, but that’s my definition — I agree with Governor Beebe on this issue.”

Steel and McDaniel both agree that their job is to defend the state constitution regardless of their personal viewpoints.  Arkansas Constitutional Amendment 83 states, “Marriage consists only of the union of one man and one woman.”

Late Friday, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

“I certainly agree with the Attorney General that we should not set the precedent of selectively defending state laws based on personal beliefs. I was disappointed in that statement from Eric Holder, to say the least,” said Steel. “As I’ve said since before I entered this race, I took an oath to defend the constitution both as a prosecutor and a legislator. The constitution is clear, and I will continue to obey that oath.”

Steel is referring to remarks from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in February where he advised state attorneys general that they are not obligated to defend laws banning same-sex marriage.

“I do not take orders from Eric Holder and I’m determined to live up to my obligation, and that includes with regard to our state’s definition of marriage,” McDaniel said while at the same time announcing his personal opposition to the ban.

All three Republican candidates also agree with Steel in their support of a traditional definition of marriage.

“Marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman in the Arkansas Constitution. In my role as your next Attorney General, I’ll oppose federal efforts to overturn Arkansas’ definition of marriage. While all are free to choose the lifestyle they wish to lead, marriage is a special relationship defined by more than 2,000 years of human history,” writes David Sterling who is leading in the latest poll on the Republican primary for AG, although many voters remain undecided.