At least two other states have announced measures that would scale back or undo the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality, but Arkansas really twisted the knife by debating its bill on Valentine’s Day.
Republican Senator Jason Rapert filed Senate Joint Resolution 7, which would reject any definition of marriage “except as the union of one man and one woman,” earlier this month. The bill also claims “no other union shall be recognized with legal incidents thereof within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction,” just in case you thought there was some wiggle room.
Rapert has called Obergefell v. Hodges “unconstitutional” and urged public officials to refuse to comply with it. “Traditional marriage in our society has always been between one man and one woman,” he declared while campaigning for the Arkansas General Assembly. “I support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that protects that right now and forevermore.”
His goal is for the resolution to pass and a constitutional convention to be convened: Despite polls showing most Americans support marriage equality, Rapert says the “silent majority” that elected Trump would ensure the 38 states necessary to ratify an anti-marriage equality amendment.
The founder of Holy Ghost Ministries, Rapert has a history of opposing basic LGBT rights: As a member of the influential Arkansas Legislative Council, he proposed a resolution urging the Arkansas Supreme Court to overturn a circuit judge’s ruling striking down the state’s marriage ban.” (Rapert actually proposed impeaching the judge who issued the verdict.)
At a 2011 Tea Party rally, he opposed allowing gay couples to adopt, insisting “we’re not going to allow minorities to run roughshod over what you people believe in.” Four years later, he attacked the Pride parade in Conway, Arkansas, and the town’s mayor for “allowing activists to march through the streets of Conway on a Sunday to purposely mock Christian values and accuse Christians of being bigots.”
But Rapert denies he is homophobic, telling KATV, “It is not bigoted to say that marriage is between a man and a woman.”