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Constitutional marriage amendment on Nov. ballot brings out Christian vote in Arkansas

EDITORS’ NOTE: This is the third story in a five-part series examining state marriage amendment initiatives on the Nov. 2 ballot.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BP)–For years, pro-family leaders have tried to get Christians involved in the political process. In Arkansas, at least, that appears to be happening this year.

Arkansas citizens will go to the polls Nov. 2 to vote on a constitutional marriage amendment, and Christians statewide are making their voice heard.

“This is an issue that’s fundamental — marriage between a man and a woman,” Chris Stewart, executive director of the Arkansas Marriage Amendment Committee, told Baptist Press. “… The Christian that would have never been involved in politics chose to become involved on this issue, because they believe in marriage between a man and a woman.”

That involvement has extended to the pulpit.

“We’ve seen so many churches and so many pastors speak out that never would have stepped out in the public square to talk about politics from the pulpit or talk about a legislative issue from the pulpit,” Stewart said. “And they’ve stepped forward to talk about marriage.”

Arkansas is one of four southern states that will vote Nov. 2 on an amendment that would protect the traditional definition of marriage, thus banning same-sex “marriage.” All four are in reaction to events in Massachusetts, where that state’s high court issued a ruling legalizing same-sex “marriage.” The ruling took effect in May. Including the four southern states, 11 states nationwide will cast marriage amendment votes on Election Day.

A poll released Oct. 26 by the Arkansas New Bureau showed the amendment winning among likely voters by a margin of 77-19 percent. The amendments in the other three southern states — Georgia, Kentucky and Mississippi — also are expected to pass:

— In Georgia, 61 percent of voters support the amendment in that state, according to a Zogby poll published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Oct. 16. The newspaper did not publish the percentage of those opposed.

— In Kentucky, that state’s amendment is favored by a margin of 76-18 percent, according to a Louisville Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll published Oct. 26.

— Although no publicly released polls have been conducted in Mississippi, voters there are expected to support their marriage amendment by a wide margin similar to the other southern states.

Even though polls show the amendment winning Arkansas, Stewart said Christians must get out and vote.

“We want it to pass — that is the bottom line,” he said. “… We just want it to pass and protect marriage in Arkansas.”

Church involvement has been key to the support, Stewart said. The Arkansas Marriage Amendment Committee has distributed all 300,000 church bulletin inserts it printed and also has mailed bumper stickers to churches. The inserts encourage believers to support the amendment.

Because Arkansas has early voting, citizens there don’t have to wait until Nov. 2 to cast their ballot. Lines at polling places have been long, said Stewart, who attributed the strong interest to the presidential election, the marriage amendment and congressional races.

“There are two- and three-hour waits at every polling location in Pulaski County,” he said of the county where Little Rock sits.

Marriage amendments on the state level provide protection from state courts but not federal courts. Homosexual activists are challenging Nebraska’s marriage amendment in federal court. For that reason, pro-family leaders are pushing for a marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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  • Michael Foust