Arkansas’ political leaders and activists had a wide range of reactions to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same sex marriage. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he disagreed with the ruling but would direct all state agencies to comply. Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman Vince Isalaco said the ruling ensures that “government does not have the authority to discriminate against anyone who marries.”
The 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling handed down on Friday (June 26) legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, with the majority opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy arguing that the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause protected the rights of gays and lesbians to get married.
However, a series of dissenting opinions from Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito argued that the ruling pushed judicial activism to its limits.
Locally, here are statements from federal and state officials as well as several activists on the ruling:
U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers
“My views are rooted in my faith and are shared by the majority of my constituents and fellow Arkansans. I am disappointed that the Supreme Court took away our constitutional sovereignty to make decisions about the sanctity of marriage for ourselves, and I continue to believe that marriage is a sacred union between one man and one woman. Now, more than ever, we must work to ensure the closely held religious beliefs of millions of Americans are protected.”
Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman Vince Isalaco
“Today the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Marriage Equality. Those of us in the Democratic Party who support this vital issue realize the importance of this decision. Individual liberty is a core value of the Democratic Party. To those in our party who disagree with this decision, I want to take a second to make sure we all understand what this ruling does. This ruling does not mandate what religious groups must do. It mandates what government must do. That is to respect the rights of every single American. That government does not have the authority to discriminate against anyone who marries.”
“Today is a milestone for same sex couples and we celebrate with them. But it is also crucial to recognize that the job is not finished. LGBT Arkansans can still be fired from their jobs for who they are. Today, we have just as much religious freedom today as yesterday. But today all people are more free under the law. We should all celebrate that.”
Gov. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark.
“Today the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision requires the State of Arkansas to recognize same-sex marriage. This decision goes against the expressed view of Arkansans and my personal beliefs and convictions. While my personal convictions will not change, as Governor I recognize the responsibility of the state to follow the direction of the U.S. Supreme Court. As a result of this ruling, I will direct all state agencies to comply with the decision.”
“It is also important to note that the Supreme Court decision is directed at the states to allow and recognize marriage between two people of the same sex. It is not a directive for churches or pastors to recognize same-sex marriage. The decision for churches, pastors and individuals is a choice that should be left to the convictions of conscience.”
U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro
“The opinion of five lawyers, not elected by the American people, should not and cannot define what millions of Americans affirm as the true and divine institution of marriage. Despite ruling two years previous that this decision rightly belonged to the elected officials in each state, the Supreme Court today removed the people’s right to uphold their own beliefs, which are based on deeply held religious and personal convictions, and instead chose to force their own definition of marriage onto the entire country.”
Craighead County Clerk Kade Holliday
“Myself, as well as, all deputy clerks in my office took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States regardless of our opinion of any issues that come through this office. Seeing as today the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of upholding Same Sex marriages as they have interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution to do so, we will begin selling these licenses here in Craighead County today (Friday) to be in compliance with the United States Constitution and United States law.”
Tippi McCullough, leader of the Arkansas Stonewall Democrats
“Honestly, my first reaction is just pure happiness. Tears just started running down my face,” McCullough told content partner KUAR.
Jerry Cox, director of the Arkansas Family Council
“Marriage has always been under the purview of the states. States have generally defined marriage generally in line with our Judeo-Christian heritage,” Cox said. “If a marriage can be two men or two women, why can’t it be three men, or four women?” Cox told KUAR in a telephone interview.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
“Although this decision does not reflect the will of Arkansas voters, we are a nation of laws, and the judicial system has an important role to play. I am disappointed that the justices have chosen to ignore the role of the States to define marriage. The justices have issued a decision, and that decision must be followed.”
“We are continuing to review this landmark decision to make sure the full implications are understood and that implementation is consistent with the rule of law. I urge those seeking to marry to be respectful as the State seeks to follow this ruling. Moving forward, it is critically important that the rights of religious freedom be protected, and I am committed to doing so.”