Same-Sex Marriage Legalized

Same-Sex Marriage Legalized

Staff Photo Nick Brothers
Parade participants hoist up a rainbow decorated Arkansas state flag.

Friday, June 26 was an emotional, roller-coaster day for Rick McCormick and his partner, Jackie Blair.

About mid-morning on Friday, June 26, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to allow same-sex marriages nationwide — nearly 46 years after the gay rights movement started when a group of LGBT individuals resisted a police raid at Stonewall Inn in 1969 in New York.

When the news hit, McCormick received several phone calls from his family members from Arkansas and Oklahoma congratulating him and Blair in support of the decision. A sense of immense pride filled him, he said.

“I’ve already got the date that I’m going to ask him. A couple friends know,” McCormick said. “I don’t mind telling anyone now. I don’t have to say he’s my partner or my roommate anymore.”

Once news of the decision being made at the Supreme Court got to Washington County Clerk Becky Lewallen, she said she called County Attorney Steve Zega, who was in his car at the time and told her he’d have to look it over and call her back. After pulling over at the next exit he read over the decision, and he called her back.

“He said, ‘It was pretty unequivocal, we’re all supposed to be issuing them it says it’s a fundamental right. I am advising you to issue them,’ so we started issuing,” Lewallen said. “It’s history now. If anyone wants to get a license, both people have to be here with $60.”


Staff Photo Nick Brothers
A recently married same sex couple wave from atop a parade float Saturday, June 27.

While Gov. Asa Hutchinson wasn’t pleased with the decision he said that Arkansas would uphold the decision. Within an hour and a half, the first same-sex marriage license was issued under the Supreme Court ruling and four more were given out by the end of the day.

In general, many Republicans claim the decision infringes on religious rights and that such a decision should have been handled on the state level. The issue caught flame mostly with religious conservatives. Support was pretty unanimous among liberals.

Arkansas State Sen. Jason Rapert, along with Reps. David and Stephen Meeks, have been vocal about their opposition to the decision on social media.

“Never giving in,” Rapert tweeted. “I am dedicated to restoring religious liberty & states rights. I am standing in the gap — it is here I shall live or die. / Marriage is between one man and one woman no matter what 5 unelected activist Supreme Court Judges say. #AppealToHeaven”


Staff Photo Nick Brothers
The Pride Parade on Saturday, June 27, featured many small businesses sporting rainbow colors to show their support for the LGBT community.

Other than that, many corporations including Visa, Coca-Cola, Target and AT&T took to social media and their web platforms to decorate them with rainbow color to show their support for the ruling. Just as the argument for the confederate flag reached a boiling point, Facebook allowed for users to display their pride and support, turning users’ news feeds into rainbows. On Twitter, 10 million tweets with either #MarriageEquality or #LoveWins were made within 24 hours of the ruling.

The Saturday after the decision also happened to be the day of the NWA Pride parade. Many parade regulars said it was the biggest turnout yet. Several local businesses, organizations and groups took part in the parade decked out in vibrant rainbow colors. Cheryl Maples and Jack Wagoner, attorneyswho represented plaintiffs in the case against Arkansas’ same-sex marriage ban, served as the grand marshals for the parade.


Staff Photo Nick Brothers
The Comedians of NWA rolled along in the Pride Parade on Saturday, June 27. The truck bed featured live music and Houston Hughes dressed as Jesus.

However, as elated as the LGBT community was for their right to marry, many said the gay rights movement is far from over with many couples still facing discrimination in the workplace and difficulties with adoption.

Mariano Moore, a gay man who wore a “Walmart PRIDE” t-shirt during the NWA Pride Parade, said Walmart has been supportive of him and was quick to resolve any discrimination issues.

“Now we’re everywhere, we’re public,” he said. “Let’s get it into our workplace and make it where we are safe anywhere.”

Fayetteville City Council voted in mid-June to take an ordinace that prohibits workplace and housing discrimination towards gender expression and identity to a vote on Sept. 8. A similar proposed ordinance was repealed in a special election in December 2015.

“I think that making it so that you can’t get fired for being gay is the next move for the gay rights movement,” said Regan Stanley, a lesbian woman who also sported a Walmart PRIDE shirt. “It’s still legal in 26 states to get fired for being gay.”

Staff Photo Nick Brothers A man holds his anti-LGBT lifestyle sign in silent protest during the NWA Pride Parade Saturday, June 27.

Staff Photo Nick Brothers A man holds his anti-LGBT lifestyle sign in silent protest during the NWA Pride Parade Saturday, June 27.

On April 28, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a case that originated in Ohio. In January, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear Obergefell along with three other cases from Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee. The arguments were grouped under the name Obergefell, and the questions posed by the court dealt with the constitutionality of marriage bans more broadly.

Before Friday’s decision, 37 states as well as the District of Columbia had already implemented marriage equality – representing more than 70 percent of the U.S. population.

Categories: Cover Story