Arkansas’ outgoing Democratic governor says he’s still opposes marriage equality

Mike Beebe

Mike Beebe AP

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Outgoing Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said Wednesday he remains opposed to same-sex marriage despite recent rulings against his state’s ban, but said he has eased his opposition to civil unions.

Mike BeebeAP

Mike Beebe

The two-term Democratic governor said he has shifted on some gay-rights issues, but still believes marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman. A federal judge last month struck down Arkansas’ ban on gay marriage, and the state Supreme Court is expected to rule soon in a separate case.

“In terms of discrimination in employment, discrimination in the ability of people to have insurance, to the extent that civil unions encompass that, I have moved in that direction,” Beebe told political columnist John Brummett at a forum on his governorship. “I still believe, and this is the way I was brought up, I still believe marriage is between a man and a woman.”

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker suspended her ruling against Arkansas’ ban, pending a potential appeal by the state. The state Supreme Court is deciding whether to uphold a Pulaski County judge’s decision that the prohibition violates the Arkansas and federal constitutions.

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Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, a Democrat who is leaving office in January due to term limits, announced earlier this year that he supports legalizing same-sex marriage but would continue defending Arkansas’ ban in court.

McDaniel has said he won’t decide whether to appeal Baker’s ruling until after the state Supreme Court rules.

Beebe is leaving office in January due to term limits, and is being succeeded by Republican Gov.-elect Asa Hutchinson.

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