The Arkansas Senate fell a vote short today of approving resolution calling on Congress to propose a constitutional convention to ban same-sex marriage and then followed with a similar vote on an amendment aimed at banning abortion.
The vote was 17-7 on the marriage resolution and 17-6 on the abortion measure. The Senate has 35 members.
Both resolutions were the work of Sen. Jason Rapert, who moved for both votes to be expunged to allow another vote.
He drew opposition from Sens. Linda Chesterfield and Will Bond on the marriage proposal. Chesterfield spoke eloquently of the Loving decision that overturned bans on mixed-race marriages.
Chesterfield said the same reasoning should apply to same-sex couples who merely “want to marry someone they love.”
“They’re not trying to marry you,” she said. “Why should it bother you if someone pursues his or her own happiness in her own way? That is supposed to be fundamental in this country.”
Rapert said marriage was not a fundamental right because the essence of marriage is the ability to reproduce and the Loving decision had said as much. “History is on my side,” Rapert said.
Some opposition stemmed from fear that a constitutional convention could range far afield of a single topic.
Next up was Rapert’s effort to call a constitutional convention to put forward an amendment to declare life begins at conception (and thus make abortion illegal.)
Rapert said the Arkansas Constitution protects life from conception (though it acknowledges Roe v. Wade’s current control at the federal level.) It’s time to speak up, he said.
He equated failure to act with a homeowner with access to a shotgun who failed to pick it up to use against an aggressor. He said the 34 states should avail themselves of a provision in the U.S. Constitution to call a constitutional convention. “You’ve got the weapon to defend yourself,” he said.
“I can’t believe anyone would argue against a life amendment,” Rapert said. No one did in today’s debate.
But vote on the resolution was 17-6, again a vote short and the vote was again expunged.