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Featured Gay Friendly Wedding Vendor: Cliff Cottage, Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Cliff Cottage

Periodically we’ll feature one of our vendors here to let our readers know about some great people who can help you plan the perfect wedding.

Cliff Cottage Inn has been performing commitment ceremonies and weddings for couples of all persuasions…both gay, straight and otherwise… since 1992 and all are still happily married!

See the Cliff Cottage Expanded Listing on Purple Unions Here

Gay Friendly Wedding Vendors in Arkansas

Arkansas Governor Signs Updated Bill

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

ArkansasWe also have some updates out of Arkansas, after the Governor there unexpectedly declined to sign that state’s right to discriminate bill, asking for changes.

Former AG Opposes Bill: Former Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel wrote an op-ed in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette condemning the “religious freedom” bill passed this week by the legislature but that Gov. Asa Hutchinson has refused to sign. full story

Rights Initiative Can Collect Signatures: Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge approved a proposed referendum to add sexual orientation to a list of categories protected from discrimination full story

Governor Signs Amended Bill: Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a religious freedom measure into law on Thursday after state lawmakers overhauled their proposal so that it mirrors the federal law. full story

Governor Considers Anti Discrimination Order: Hutchinson said he’s considering signing an executive order that bars discrimination among the state’s workforce. full story

ACLU Praises Governor: The ACLU issued a statement praising the Governor’s actions. full story

HRC Calls for LGBT Protections: “The fact remains that the only way to ensure LGBT Arkansans are treated equally under state law is to add explicit protections for them. Moving forward, Arkansas should explicitly clarify that the RFRA cannot be used to undermine non-discrimination protections at any level.” full story

State Supremes Create New Marriage Equality Case: In related news, the state Supreme Court created a new marriage equality case to determine if a justice sworn in in January should help decide whether gay marriage is legal in Arkansas. full story

Arkansas Governor Won’t Sign Bill Without Changes

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

ArkansasLots of news out of Arkansas yesterday after the legislature sent a right to discriminate bill to the Governor’s desk:

Governor Refuses to Sign Bill: Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) announced Wednesday that he would not sign the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA) as it was presented to him by the legislature on Tuesday, urging the legislature to recall the bill and tweak it so that it better mirrors the narrower federal bill. full story

Governor’s Son Publically Opposed Bill: The Governor revealed that his son Seth Hutchinson publicly denounced his plans to sign the bill, signing a petition. full story

Little Rock Nine Opposed: In a symbolic move, two members of the Little Rock Nine — Carlotta Walls Lanier and Ernie Green have voiced their opposition to Arkansas’ H.B. 1228. full story

Activists Rally for Changes: Hundreds of LGBT rights activists rallied for changes to the bill. full story

Starnes Hates on Walmart: Anti gay commentator Todd Starnes tweeted that Walmart, which opposed the law, is “the home of low prices and no values” and called for a boycott. full story

Senate Approves Amended Bill: The Arkansas Senate on Wednesday night approved transmitting two amended existing bills to the House that add language that mirrors the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. full story

Jake Tapper Interviews Bill Author: Watch this guy babble and deflect in some truly Pence-ian doublespeak and note how he repeatedly says “homosexual” rather than “gay.” full story

Arkansas House Sends Right to Discriminate Bill to Governor

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

ArkansasFirst the state legislature wiped out all local LGBT protections in the state. Now they are sending a bill to the Governor that’s similar to Indiana’s new right to discriminate law:

LGBT Weekly reports:

A religious freedom bill that is similar to the Indiana law that has faced national backlash for legalizing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people cleared the Arkansas Legislature Tuesday. The bill will now go before Gov. Asa Hutchinson, where it is expected to be signed. According to The Huffington Post the Arkansas legislation allows a person who feels his or her exercise of religion has been “substantially burdened” to cite that argument as a claim or defense in a private lawsuit. The legislation also grants corporations the right to religious freedom. This language is not in the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and critics say it could be used to override existing anti-discrimination protections.

The Mayor of Little Rock asked the Governor to veto the bill:

Little Rock’s mayor is urging Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto a “religious freedom” bill that critics have said sanctions discrimination against gays and lesbians and that the mayor argues will hurt the state’s economic development efforts. Mayor Mark Stodola called the bill “simply too divisive” in a letter sent to Hutchinson and released by the city on Tuesday.

So did Walmart:

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest company, on Tuesday asked Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto the freshly-passed HB 1228, a so-called “religious freedom” bill that is really a “religious bigotry” law. Immediately after the bill was passed, Wal-Mart released a statement from its CEO, Doug McMillan, asking the governor to veto the bill. In the statement, McMillan says: “Every day in our stores, we see firsthand the benefits diversity and inclusion have on our associates, customers and communities we serve. It all starts with our core basic belief of respect for the individual. Today’s passage of H.B. 1228 threatens to undermine the spirit of inclusion present throughout the state of Arkansas and does not reflect the values we proudly uphold. For these reasons, we are asking Governor Hutchinson to veto this legislation.”

But the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown is calling on the state to hold the line:

Dear Marriage Supporter, DON’T LET THEM DO TO ARKANSAS WHAT THEY DID TO INDIANA! Minutes ago Arkansas passed a religious freedom bill. We know the other side is going to try to bully and intimidate Governor Hutchinson out of signing this bill. The time to act is NOW! Support Governor Hutchinson and urge him to Not be Bullied and Sign the Law. Also tweet out #IStandWithArkansas and get onto Facebook and let everyone know your support! It’s urgently needed that you forward this message to your friends and family and ask them to take action as well. We must stand up against this pernicious assault against religious liberty.

The Governor has previously indicated that he plans to sign the bill.

Bigotry in Arkansas and The Roadmap For Future Discrimination

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Matt Baume

In a follow-up video to last week’s yummy fireside chat on the ongoing “cake wars” and why bakeries in certain states can’t refuse to do business with gay folks, Matt Baume tackles Arkansas’ new law banning local governments from passing LGBT anti-discrimination protections.

Taking viewers on a trip back in time to uncover the insidious origins of the bill, Baume reveals how the benign-sounding “Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act” could very well serve as a blueprint for future anti-LGBT laws across the country.

As Baume says, if there’s anything we learned from Star Wars Episode I, it’s that “the best way to conceal a great evil – an evil that can shake a Republic to its very foundations – is to make it incredibly boring.”

Authored By Matt Baume – See the Full Story at Towleroad.com

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Federal Judge Overturns Arkansas Marriage Equality Ban

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

ArkansasA federal judge just struck down the state’s ban on marriage equality.

The Washington Blade reports:

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker, an Obama appointee, wrote in a 45-page decision that Arkansas’ prohibition on gay nuptials, known as Amendment 83, violates the fundamental right to marriage protected by Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “As demonstrated, a most searching examination of Separate Defendants’ proposed reasons for Arkansas’s marriage laws reveals that these laws are not narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling state interest,” Baker writes. “The bases Separate Defendants suggest for upholding Amendment 83 and the challenged statutes, primarily encouraging procreation and ensuring the best interests of children, in addition to the laws’ mismatched means, do not withstand strict scrutiny.”

Queerty flags some of the best quotes from the decision, including:

These cases underscore that the drafters of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments “knew times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.”

The judge stayed her own decision, so there will be no same-sex weddings immediately.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arkansas.

USA, Arkansas: State Supreme Court Stays Arkansas Marriage Equality Ruling

Friday, May 16th, 2014

ArkansasThe state Supreme Court issued a stay on Judge Piazza’s marriage equality ruling, halting weddings in the state.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Arkansas’ highest court has suspended a judge’s ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban, halting the distribution of licenses that have been issued to hundreds of gay couples. The state Supreme Court on Friday granted a request to suspend Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza’s decision voiding a 2004 constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Piazza last week struck down the ban, but expanded that ruling on Thursday to include all state laws preventing gay couples from marrying. McDaniel and four counties named in the lawsuit asked justices to stay Piazza’s ruling while it’s on appeal. More than 450 same-sex couples received marriage licenses since Piazza’s ruling last week. Conway, Pulaski and Washington were the only counties issuing licenses to same-sex couples on Friday.

Now we wait for the appeal to be heard by the state Supreme Court.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arkansas.

Arkansas Marriage Equality Widens – Third County Issuing Licenses

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Arkansas

Conway County is joining in the Arkansas marriage equality rush along with Pulaski and Washington counties.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

The Conway County clerk says her office will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after a judge paved the way for clerks to start granting them. Conway County Clerk Debbie Hartman said Friday that her office will begin issuing marriage licenses out to same-sex couples who are seeking them.

In related news, an attempt to pas a legislative resolution supporting te ban has failed.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Arkansas lawmakers have blocked a proposed resolution urging the state Supreme Court to uphold a ban on same-sex marriage. A non-binding resolution objecting to a judge’s decision striking down the ban failed before the Arkansas Legislative Council on a procedural vote Friday. The resolution would have urged justices to overturn Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza’s ruling striking down all measures preventing gay couples from marrying.

And all this is happening in Arkansas – simply amazing.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arkansas.

USA, Arkansas: Supreme Court Gives Plaintiffs One Day to Respond to New Stay Request

Friday, May 16th, 2014

ArkansasThings are humming along in Arkansas – the State Supreme Court gave plaintiffs a 2 PM Friday deadline to respond to a request for a stay of Judge Piazza’s new order.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Arkansas’ highest court has moved up its deadline for a group of same-sex couples to respond to a bid to halt a judge’s ruling that struck down the state’s gay marriage ban. The Arkansas Supreme Court gave attorneys for the group of gay couples challenging the ban until 2 p.m. Friday to respond to the motion for a stay of Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza’s ruling striking down all measures preventing gay couples from marrying. The court had initially given the attorneys until Monday at noon to respond. It was unclear how quickly justices would act.

LGBTQ Nation also published a great primer on where we are in Arkansas.

Could the new date mean the Court is planning to issue a stay as early as Friday afternoon?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arkansas.

USA, Arkansas: Second County Issuing Marriage Licenses to Same Sex Couples

Friday, May 16th, 2014

ArkansasIn addition to Pulaski County, Washington County is once again issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

The Washington County clerk has resumed issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a day after a circuit judge in Pulaski County ruled that all state laws barring gay marriage are unconstitutional. Two same-sex couples received wedding licenses shortly after the Washington County clerk’s office opened Friday at 8 a.m. Clerk Becky Lewallen says a couple did stop by Thursday afternoon for a license, but she told them to return in the morning.

It’s kind of ironic if you think about it – if the state embraced marriage equality, all these couples would be planning weddings with friends and family and would help boost the state economy. But by forcing these couples to marry in this potentially brief window, the state is losing out, and so are the couples who won’t have that “dream” wedding they may have wanted.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arkansas.