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Posts tagged "Arkansas"

Victory in Fayetteville, Arkansas tonight!! 

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An Arkansas judge says he will strike down a state law barring clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, expanding his ruling against the state’s ban on gay marriage.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza told attorneys in a letter that he’ll issue an order Thursday declaring the law banning same-sex marriage licenses as unconstitutional. The state Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay Piazza’s ruling that the gay marriage ban was unconstitutional, but noted the prohibition on gay marriage licenses still stood.

The court ruling effectively halted gay marriages in the state, with the two counties that had been issuing licenses to same-sex couples saying they’d stop.

Piazza last week struck down the 2004 constitutional amendment and 1997 law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Developing story, check back for updates.

H/T: Chris Geinder at BuzzFeed



An Arkansas GOP state senator wants to impeach the judge who overturned that state’s ban on same-sex marriage. How surprising. 

Senator Jason Rapert says the judge’s decision should not stand since he says 75% of Arkansans voted in 2004 that marriage is between a man and woman. He said, “I have been contacted today by other legislators that would seek to start impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives against Judge Chris Piazza.” The Attorney General’s Office plans to appeal the decision. The office also submitted an emergency stay to the court, which would mean the same sex marriage ban would stay in place until the Supreme Court can make a decision on the issue.

The GOP speaker of the Arkansas House strongly disagrees. 

"Trying to impeach a Judge because you don’t like his or her decision notwithstanding the subject matter is absurd and goes against hundreds of years of the way our great country has conducted business under our three branches of government. Circuit judges are elected by the people, as are our appellate and state Supreme Court judges. The appellate process needs to run its course. Our forefathers saw the importance of our constitution and system of self-governance. That system has worked well for a long time and make us who we are as a country. I won’t support any effort to undermine that."

In January, Rapert called for the impeachment of the “dictator” President Obama because he has “denounced the well-documented fact that America is a Christian nation.”

h/t: Andrew Demillo at AP, via

BTW, Cotton is running for Senate in 2014, against incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor. 

h/t: Zack Ford at Think Progress LGBT


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said Saturday he supports allowing same-sex couples to wed but will continue defending his state’s 2004 ban on gay marriages in court.

McDaniel, a Democrat serving his final year as the state’s top attorney, became the first statewide official in Arkansas to back same-sex marriage.

"I want to tell you I do support marriage equality and I do believe Arkansans should have the right to be equal in the eyes of the law," said McDaniel, speaking at the Associated Press Managing Editors convention.

Voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, but that ban and others nationwide are facing legal challenges.

Seventeen states allow gay marriage, and federal judges have struck down bans in Michigan, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia. An Arkansas judge is expected to rule by Friday in a lawsuit challenging Arkansas’ ban.

"I’m going to zealously defend our constitution, but at the same time I think it’s important to let people where I stand on the matter," McDaniel told the AP after his speech.

McDaniel said during a question and answer session with editors that there wasn’t any single incident that changed his mind about gay marriage.

"It’s become more and more difficult for me to accept the idea of anyone being treated as a second class citizen," McDaniel said.

McDaniel announced his support for gay marriage after criticizing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for telling his state counterparts in February they weren’t obligated to defend laws in their states banning same-sex marriage if the laws discriminate in a way forbidden by the Constitution.

McDaniel said he didn’t believe attorneys general should allow their personal views to influence whether they defend a state law.

"I do not take orders from Eric Holder and I’m determined to live up to my obligation, and that includes with regard to our state’s definition of marriage," McDaniel said.

McDaniel had voiced support for civil unions when he ran for attorney general in 2006, but said then he believed marriage was between a man and a woman. McDaniel ran briefly for governor but dropped out early last year after admitting to an inappropriate relationship with a Hot Springs attorney.

McDaniel said after his speech that he had considered backing marriage equality during that brief bid for the state’s top office.

"Even when I was running for governor, there were times when I was like, ‘don’t you think it’s time that I just say this and be done with it?’" McDaniel said. "It’s controversial. There are some people who are going to think it was a great thing that I made this statement while in office, and there are going to be some people who are going to be deeply offended and angry. It really came down to why not today?"

McDaniel said he was not calling on any other statewide officials or candidates to support gay marriage, and said he would not campaign for ending the ban while serving as attorney general.

The head of the group that campaigned for the ban in 2004 said he was surprised by McDaniel’s comments but still had faith in McDaniel’s office to defend the amendment.

"I’m disappointed because he didn’t have to take a position one way or the other. It is disappointing that he has taken this position," said Jerry Cox, president of the Arkansas Family Council. "However, I do not doubt the ability of his staff to adequately defend the Arkansas marriage amendment because I believe the people on his staff are very capable lawyers and I have seen them work very capably on other issues."

The head of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, praised McDaniel for his comments.

"Today Attorney General McDaniel adds his voice to an ever-growing chorus of Americans from across the country that are standing up for the right of all couples to marry_and there is no turning back that tide," HRC President Chad Griffin, an Arkansas native, said in a statement released by the group. "As a proud Arkansan, I know it’s only a matter of time before committed and loving gay and lesbian couples in my home state get to enjoy all the rights and benefits that come with civil marriage."


New restrictions have been popping up in states across the south since the Voting Rights Act was essentially gutted last month.

It’s one more reason why the right to vote needs to be protected:

Which state are you most concerned about?

(via recall-all-republicans)

The Benton County (Arkansas) Republican newsletter contained a call for Republican legislators who voted to expand Obamacare in the state to be shot.

Chris Nogy, the husband of the county Republican Party secretary, was so upset at Republican state legislators that he called for them to be shot in the county party newsletter.

Nogy was outraged because the Arkansas House voted to use privatize their Medicaid expansion, and use the Obamacare health insurance exchanges to expand medical services to the state’s poor.

Nogy was enraged by the use of that well known socialist mechanism, the free market.

It is one thing to be upset about a vote, but to call for state legislators of your own party to be used as “bullet backstops” shows how far off the cliff many on the right have fallen. When they threaten violence over the use of the free market, there is really is nowhere to go from there.

Elected Republican officials really are terrified of the base of their own party, and threats such as these are exactly why. This type of behavior is also why it is impossible for Democrats and Republicans to come together on anything.

The Benton County Republican Committee has condemned the letter, but the damage has already been done.

Republicans are literally governing with threats of guns to their heads. The Republican Party isn’t just broken. Stories like this one suggest that many rank and file Republicans have been driven to the point of mental illness by their insular drumbeat of extremism.

h/t: Jason Easley at PoliticusUSA

ExxonMobil’s recent oil spill dumped some 200,000 gallons into Mayflower, Arkansas, killed wildlife, and caused 22 homes to be evacuated. As the Natural Resources Committee takes up another bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) argued at a hearing that the spill is more evidence the Keystone XL pipeline is a safe bet for Americans. 

In fact, Exxon has been heavily criticized for its public dismissal of the harm and scope of the spill. And thanks to a technicality, the company can avoid paying taxes toward the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund — an exemption that applies to most tar sands crude.


Police And Exxon Mobil Threatening Journalists With Arrests For Reporting On Arkasas Oil Spill

Reporters covering the oil spill from ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline in Mayflower, Arkansas, are reporting that they’ve been blocked from the site and threatened with arrest.

On Friday morning, Inside Climate News reported that an Exxon spokesperson told reporter Lisa Song that she could be “arrested for criminal trespass” when she went to the command center to try to find representatives from the EPA and the Department of Transportation. On Friday afternoon, I spoke to the news director from the local NPR affiliate who said he, too, had been threatened with arrest while trying to cover the spill.

Michael Hibblen, who reports for the radio station KUAR, went to the spill site on Wednesday with state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. McDaniel was in the area to inspect the site and hold a news conference, and Hibblen and a small group of reporters were following him to report on the visit. Upon arrival, representatives from the county sheriff’s office, which is running security at the site, directed the reporters to a boundary point 10 feet away that they should not pass. The reporters agreed to comply. But the tone shifted abruptly, Hibblen told Mother Jones on Friday:

It was less than 90 seconds before suddenly the sheriff’s deputies started yelling that all the media people had to leave, that ExxonMobil had decided they don’t want you here, you have to leave. They even referred to it as “Exxon Media”…Some reporters were like, “Who made this decision? Who can we talk to?” The sheriff’s deputies started saying, “You have to leave. You have 10 seconds to leave or you will be arrested.”

Hibblen says he didn’t really have time to deal with getting arrested, since he needed to file his report on the visit for both the local affiliate and national NPR. (You can hear his piece on the AG’s visit here.) KUAR has also reported on Exxon blocking reporters’ access to the spill site.

Since the spill happened a week ago, cleanup crews have collected 19,000 barrels of oil and water.

Hibblen says county officials seem to be deferring to Exxon when it comes to reporters. “This gets back to who’s really in charge, and it seems like ExxonMobil,” he said. “When you throw the media out, that’s when the media really get their tentacles up.

Edit: The FAA declared a no-fly zone over the spill area, saying that “only relief aircraft operations under direction of [ExxonMobil employee] Tom Suhrhoff” could be over the site. (The no-fly zone was later relaxed.)

Local TV news director Nick Genty says thatExxon is running the show at the site. When we try to get information from local law enforcement, they direct us to the PR from Exxon.“ 


States slowly chipping away at Roe vs. Wade: How far will they go?

The landmark decision Roe vs. Wade of 1973 gave women the right to have an abortion until “viability” (which is defined as when a fetus could live outside the mother) which is generally thought to be after 22-24 weeks, or about 6 months. But in the last few years, and especially, it seems, just in the last month, lawmakers in various states across the country are passing laws that contradict Roe’s standing. While these states are most likely setting themselves up for costly lawsuits in their states, pro-choice activists are afraid that this was their plan along—to bring the fight back to the Supreme Court. Here are some states we should keep our eye on.

Kansas: On Tuesday, a bill was passed in the Kansas house which, among many things, would require doctors to inform their patients of the link between breast cancer and abortions. Here’s the thing, that link is totally bogus. Institutions like the World Health Organization and the American Cancer Society don’t believe in it, and other studies have completely debunked it. Oh, and that same bill? It wouldn’t allow rape and incest victims to get late term abortions. 

Missouri, Texas, Alaska: These states already have some form of law that requires a patient to be informed of that medically-incorrect breast cancer link.

North Dakota: Just this Friday, the North Dakota senate approved a law that would ban abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks (and that’s with an invasive vaginal ultrasound). It’s the strictest proposed abortion ban in the country. The bill is on its way to the Republican governor for signature. The North Dakota legislature is also attempting to further abortion bans by considering a “personhood amendment” which would define life as beginning at conception, which could essentially outlaw abortions altogether.

Arkansas: Just two weeks before the North Dakota legislature, Arkansas instituted an abortion ban after 12 weeks, which is the time when you can hear a heartbeat with an abdominal ultrasound. The Democratic governor vetoed the bill, but his veto was overridden in the legislature. It will go into effect this summer.

Nebraska: In 2010, Nebraska banned abortions after 20 weeks with the claim that fetuses feel pain. That law set off a wildfire, with other states like Oklahoma, Indiana and Louisiana passing similar “fetal pain” bills. Conversely, a judge in Idaho struck down that state’s take on the law just this month.

So why is a debate we had and settled on 40 years ago creeping back into political discourse? And will these states eventually erode Roe v. Wade altogether? And can they legally get away with it? Elizabeth Nash, states issue manager and the Guttmacher Institute, will tell us everything when she stops by “The War Room.” Tune in Wednesday night @ 6E/3P on Current TV for more.

(via reagan-was-a-horrible-president)

Arkansas lawmakers have voted to override Gov. Mike Beebe’s (D) veto of a 12-week abortion ban, ensuring that the legislation will go into effect this spring. SB 134 represents the worst abortion restriction in the nation — cutting off women’s access to legal abortion services well before the point of viability, which is typically around 24 weeks of pregnancy — and it is the first “fetal heartbeat” abortion measure to go into law. Here’s everything you need to know about this egregious attack on Arkansas’ women’s reproductive rights:

1. The governor vetoed it because it is unconstitutional.  But under Arkansas law, legislatures can override their governor’s vetoes with a simple majority vote in each chamber, and that’s what happened this week.

2. This isn’t the first stringent abortion ban that Arkansas Republicans have forced past the governor. Just last week, lawmakers voted to override Beebe’s veto fo a 20-week “fetal pain” abortion ban, ensuring the measure would immediately become law. Beebe also rejected that legislation over concerns about undermining Roe v. Wade, and the American Civil Liberties Union threatened to sue if it went into effect. But that wasn’t enough to stop Arkansas Republicans — and that wasn’t enough to stop them from pushing for an even stricter 12-week abortion ban to supersede the 20-week ban, either.

3. “Fetal heartbeat” bans aren’t rooted in any scientific logic. 

4. Arkansas is now home to the worst abortion ban in the country. Radical heartbeat bills popped up in states around the country at the beginning of this legislative session, but Arkansas and North Dakota are the only states to successfully advance heartbeat measures — and Arkansas is the very first state to actually enact one into law. The original version of the bill sought to ban abortions after just six weeks, and Rapert ended up amending it after a massive outcry. But pushing back the deadline by six weeks is hardly an improvement. Banning abortion services at just 12 weeks still goes much further than the 20-week bans abortion bans on the books in seven other states, making Arkansas’ law the strictest in the nation.

5. Republicans are fully aware they’re inviting a host of legal challenges.

H/T: Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress Health