LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- It's a controversial issue that has sparked debate across the country: Should marriage be the sole union of one man and one woman? Two groups in Arkansas are saying no.
In this year's election, voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington voted to legalize same-sex marriage, bringing the total to nine states across the country. The day after the election, two groups in Arkansas decided to spark similar measures in the Natural State.
Arkansans for Equality is working on a 2014 measure that would repeal the 2004 Arkansas amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality hopes to legalize gay marriage in 2016. Organizer Trey Weir says both groups plan to work together and are already starting the formal paperwork needed to get both issues on the ballot.
"We've got a lawyer so far. We've met with him on last Wednesday to discuss where we go from here and we should have some language for the ballot to submit to the Attorney General pretty soon," says Weir.
Not everyone supports their efforts. Arkansas Family Council worked in 2004 to amend Arkansas' constitution to legally define marriage as between one man and one woman. Executive Director Jerry Cox says he believes their amendment will stand.
"The people of Arkansas have already spoken on this issue. Seventy-five percent have said we believe marriage ought to be the union of a man and a woman and that pretty much settles it I believe," says Cox.
Both initiatives say they still have a lot of work ahead of them. First, they must have the language of the ballot approved by the Attorney General and then gather enough signatures to get it on the ballot. After that, it will be up to Arkansas voters whether to legalize gay marriage.
The Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality will hold its first meeting this Saturday, Dec. 1 at the Downtown Central Arkansas Library from 4 until 6 p.m. in the East Room. They are encouraging anyone interested in volunteering to attend.
In this year's election, Minnesota struck down an amendment that defined marriage as between one man and one woman and both New Mexico and Rhode Island respect out of state marriages of same sex couples. Ten other states already have laws on the books recognizing domestic partnerships or civil unions.