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Ark. lawmaker’s resolution calling for reversal of gay marriage ruling fails

Friday, May 16, 2014
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Updated: 5:00 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An effort by Arkansas lawmakers to weigh in on the state’s legal battle over its same-sex marriage ban faltered Friday after a group of Democratic legislators blocked a resolution urging the state Supreme Court to prevent gay couples from wedding.

Jason RapertDanny Johnston, AP

Jason Rapert

The proposal was aimed at Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza’s decision striking down all state measures banning gay marriage. The vote came hours before the state Supreme Court suspended Piazza’s ruling while it’s being appealed.

The nonbinding resolution, which called on the court to invalidate the hundreds of marriage licenses issued after Piazza’s ruling, failed to win the votes needed to be considered by the Arkansas Legislative Council.

Sen. Jason Rapert, who introduced the resolution, accused Democrats of using parliamentary gimmicks to block debate.

“It’s clear what the people of this state want, and we had an attempt today to stifle even the consideration of a resolution in support of marriage,” said Rapert, R-Conway.

Rapert’s proposal did not call for Piazza’s impeachment, an idea floated by Rapert and some GOP lawmakers and endorsed by former Gov. Mike Huckabee.

But even Democrats who said they oppose gay marriage said they were worried about the resolution specifically criticizing Piazza. The measure also called for the Legislature to pursue ways to “prevent the Arkansas Constitution and the will of the people of this state from being negated by judicial activism.”

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The only Republican to vote against introducing the measure was House Speaker Davy Carter.

“Whether or not our state’s constitutional amendment runs afoul of the United States Constitution is a question for our highest court,” Carter, R-Cabot, said in a statement. “Judicial intimidation by the legislative branch is not appropriate in this instance or any other.”

But the top Democrat in the House, who supports Piazza’s ruling, said he saw the resolution as a political move that the state could regret as attitudes change about same-sex marriage.

“Our country as a whole is slowly moving toward equality for all, and I’m just tired of Arkansas being on the lagging end of those kinds of movements,” said House Minority Leader Rep. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville. “So I would just prefer the Legislature not waste its time with political theater.”

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