Arkansas reacts to same-sex marriage ruling

    8:17 PM, Jun 26, 2013   |    comments
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    Video: How same-sex marriage ruling will affect Arkansas

    Video: Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage

    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The U.S. Supreme Court made two historical rulings regarding same-sex marriage Wednesday. Legally married same-sex couples will now be able to receive the same federal benefits reserved only for heterosexual couples.

    Arkansas defined marriage as between one man and one woman back in 2004, and while today's decision doesn't change that, some advocates say it fueled the fire to make same-sex marriages legal in the natural state.

    "We've got support now from the Supreme Court, at least 5 of them, that marriage equality should happen or at least they shouldn't be denied federal benefits. I think that says something. We are moving forward as a country," said Trey Weir, co-founder of the Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality.

    Wednesday's decision will affect those same-sex couples legally married in one of the 10 states that recognize them, but it will not affect those living here in Arkansas.

    "Military benefits for same-sex spouses, social security survivor benefits, just a whole long list of benefits that are now available," said Weir.

    "A positive aspect to this ruling is that it does not create a constitutional basis for same-sex marriage itself. Now it just gives the benefits--the federal benefits--to same sex couples," added Sarah Bean with Arkansas Family Council.

    Beans said while the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, it's decision not to rule on Proposition 8 shows the states have all the power when it comes to same-sex marriage.

    "This is a state's decision. It's the state's rights. The states need to decide. I believe in 38 or 39 states, those states have made the decision that marriage should be between one man and one woman, and I'm glad the federal government is going to honor that. That is exactly what needs to happen," explained Bean.

    But, Weir believes the attitudes towards same-sex couples are changing and hopes Arkansas' law will too.

    "I think people are starting to understand that it's going to happen. People are bringing it to the dinner table. They are talking about it, and hopefully some hearts and minds will be changed," Weir concluded.

    Weir also said his team has drafted a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Arkansas and plans to submit it to the Attorney General's office. They hope to get 200,000 signatures in order to get the measure on the 2016 ballot.

    Arkansas' congressmen and senators say they still support the amendment Arkansas voters approved in 2004 defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

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