LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BP)–It appears Arkansas citizens will vote on a state constitutional marriage amendment in November, thanks in part to the efforts of pro-family supporters opposing same-sex “marriage.”
The Arkansas Marriage Amendment Committee has presented more than 200,000 signatures of registered Arkansas voters to the secretary of state’s office, more than double the amount needed to place an amendment defining marriage as the union of one man with one woman on the ballot.
“The people of Arkansas have spoken; they would rather define marriage at the ballot box this November than have some judge or court do it for them,” declared Jerry Cox, president of the Arkansas Marriage Amendment Committee during a news conference July 1 at the state capitol in Little Rock. “We believe the definition of marriage in Arkansas should remain as it has always been, the union of one man and one woman.”
In a little more than 90 days, the Marriage Amendment Committee collected 200,693 signatures. Only 80,570 signatures are required to qualify for the ballot. No other petition drive in Arkansas history has gathered so many signatures, Cox said.
“Statewide over 75 percent of the people asked agreed to sign our petition,” Cox said. “The vast majority of people in the state of Arkansas support this amendment and I believe they will vote for it in November.”
Among the supporters is Gov. Mike Huckabee. On his weekly statewide call-in radio show July 6, Huckabee said he favors a ban on same-sex “marriage” because it would silence activists who want to change social history. He said the ballot measure would authorize the state not to recognize such unions from other states.
Huckabee also said he favors a change to the U.S. Constitution banning same-sex “marriage.”
Arkansas is one of several states where petition drives have been launched to place similar constitutional amendments on their state constitutions. Pro-family groups in three other states, Michigan, Montana and Oregon, have surpassed the required total of signatures needed to get marriage amendments on the ballots in those states, according to a Baptist Press report. Pro-family groups in two other states, North Dakota and Ohio, are facing an August deadline for their respective amendments.
If the Arkansas amendment is passed in November, Cox said, “every person will continue to have the same rights they currently have regarding marriage. This merely raises the current law to the state constitutional level.” Noting the recent legalization of same-sex marriages in Massachusetts and legalization of civil unions in Vermont, Cox said that unless the amendment is passed this fall, Arkansas will continue to be vulnerable to state court challenges seeking to legalize same-sex “marriage.”
“We have two choices. Either the people of Arkansas will define marriage at the ballot box, or the courts will do it for us,” Cox said. “One way or another, marriage will be defined or re-defined.”
The amendment is not a referendum on homosexuality, Cox added. “It is a referendum on marriage and how the state of Arkansas will define it.”
The secretary of state’s office must validate the signatures and determine if there are enough to get the issue on the ballot. Official word is expected later this month. More than 3,000 volunteers statewide aided in gathering the needed signatures, Chris Stewart, the committee’s executive director, said. Thousands more circulated and signed petitions that they downloaded from the Internet or received in the mail.
The Arkansas Faith and Ethics Council and Families First also aided in the petition drive. Calling the volunteers — many of whom are Arkansas Baptists — “foot soldiers in the battle” to preserve marriage, Larry Page, executive director of the Arkansas Faith and Ethics Council, expressed thanks to all who circulated the petitions.
The volunteers are “the real heroes of this effort” who are helping “preserve the sanctity of marriage and protecting the family as God designed it to be,” Page said.
The effort to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman was “not a battle we went looking for,” he said.
“Our struggle to defend and preserve traditional marriage has been initiated by homosexual activists, maverick public officials and [an] out-of-control judiciary,” he said. “Opponents are quick to denounce our actions as discriminatory. What we are opposing is not discriminatory against anyone. This is not driven by animus or hostility at homosexuals. This is not about individual rights. This is about protecting and preserving marriage as we know it and marriage as a legal relationship.”
Page said traditional marriage predates all other human institutions, came before the church and before government, is old as mankind and is virtually universal.
“Marriage between one man and one woman was established by God, dictated by nature, consistent with biology, in keeping with common sense and accepted by virtually every people group, nation and culture on earth,” Page said.
“Neither shrill demagoguery by a militant minority, nor the punditry of so-called cultural elites, nor judges on anabolic steroids can change that or change the minds of the vast majority of people who know intuitively that marriage is what it is and that it should be left alone.”
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit