The Associated Press reports:
The Arkansas Senate on Tuesday endorsed a long-shot effort to push for amending the U.S. Constitution to effectively ban gay marriage and abortion, a move one Republican lawmaker said is needed to overturn rulings from the nation’s highest court.
The majority-Republican chamber approved by a 19-9 vote a resolution calling for a federal constitutional convention to take up an amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman. A separate resolution calling for an amendment effectively declaring that life begins at conception passed on an 18-9 vote.
“This is a day where the Arkansas Senate stood up for life and stood up for natural marriage between a man and a woman and also it will encourage people around the nation,” said Republican Sen. Jason Rapert, who sponsored the resolutions. The Arkansas proposals would need at least 33 other states to agree for a convention to be held, and 38 states to ratify the amendments.
The Human Rights Campaign reacts:
“Marriage equality is settled law, and any bill or legislator seeking to undermine it is in conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Constitution,” said Kendra R. Johnson, HRC Arkansas state director. “HRC Arkansas calls on our lawmakers put an end to these cynical, divisive theatrics, and start focusing on the issues that matter to Arkansans instead introducing a bill that would only seek to harm LGBTQ people.”
The Arkansas legislature has no authority to force Congress to begin the process of amending the U.S. Constitution, and would not be able to influence the outcome of such an undertaking. If the Constitution were to be amended in this way — which is unlikely — it would give states the ability to roll back marriage equality if they oppose it, effectively stripping away years of progress and placing millions of same-sex marriages in jeopardy.
RELATED: A petition to rename an Arkansas sewage treatment plant for Rapert was launched after he threatened to shoot a constituent who “harassed” him in grocery store parking lot. In 2015, Rapert called for the United States to use a “strategically-placed nuclear weapon” against ISIS.