Sad about Smith
You are sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire, and I’m sad to hear of it.
For many years now he has worn Leland Duvall’s word merchant mantle. Where are we pedestrian students of words and idioms going to turn?
Woe are we.
Billy R. Wilson
A voice of affirmation
This is a letter to the allies, to the judges and mothers and fathers and neighbors.
Those Arkansans who defiantly stand up to their neighbors who preach against their LGBT family and neighbors are the ones who deserve the accolades today.
Last week’s historic decision in support of same-sex marriage will not negate the years of trauma from the locker rooms, the classrooms and the floor of the Arkansas legislature that Arkansans, both young and old, have endured. May 9, 2014 has already had an impact on our fellow Arkansans. When I was a kid growing up in Russellville, I listened for any voice in the media who might be a sound of support for myself and those of my orientation. Among the hate from the pulpit and campaign trail and the elections, I rarely heard those voices of affirmation. But I kept listening.
There are young Arkansans who are growing up in our Natural State who can turn on the news today and see a group of Arkansans who are taking a brave step towards our shared ideal.
They’re out there, listening, and I’m so grateful that today’s ruling speaks to the ideals of equality and neighborliness that they need to hear.
For the mothers and fathers and grandparents and families who affirmed and embraced their different children: Today is for you. A supportive family gives us the backbone to be proud of ourselves and today, the words of encouragement are codified in a legal ruling that’s a love letter to our future.
Today is a glimpse into the future of Arkansas: families embracing love instead of exclusion, a majority recognizing that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Arkansans are truly their neighbors.
To borrow the words of Judge Chris Piazza, we are all stronger for it. I’ve never felt as Arkansan as I do today.
Just like you
Marriage equality is an idea whose time came in Arkansas. The River Valley Equality Center welcomes Judge Piazza’s decision to strike down the state ban on same-sex marriage. Our excitement and joy is also tempered with the knowledge that this victory is not the end to the struggle for marriage equality in Arkansas, as we know it will be appealed by the attorney general’s office. We are cautiously optimistic that Judge Piazza’s decision will stand through the appeals process and Arkansas will join 17 other states and the District of Columbia in offering same-sex marriage to its citizens.
As our fellow Arkansans begin discussing the impact of this decision, we ask that you think about your friends, your neighbors and your family members who may be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning. As we live our lives in the open, you have the opportunity to see that we are just like you: We worry about the economy, we hope for a better future, and we want the best for our family, our children and ourselves.
Though marriage equality is an important issue to the LGBTQ community, we also acknowledge that there is still work and progress to be made toward greater equality and toleration for our community in Arkansas. Employment discrimination, parental rights, adoption rights and legal protections from bullying and harassment continue to be important concerns for our community.
The River Valley Equality Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing community services, education and support to the LGBTQ community of the Arkansas River Valley. We meet the first and third Tuesdays at 7 p.m. in the Chambers Meeting Hall of St. John’s Episcopal Church at 215 N. Sixth Street in Fort Smith. All members of the community are welcome to join us!
Thanks to some recent Arkansas Times articles, my to-do list is growing:
I can travel around the state trying to locate Judge Chris Piazza to give him a hug. His well-reasoned decision in the gay marriage thing is in keeping with the Constitution, the one we love when we think our rights are threatened but ignore when someone else’s is on the chopping block. Yeah, that one.
I can write a modest check to Tim Cullen, who’s feeling the effects of obscene negative campaign bucks from out-of-state players as he runs his honorable campaign for Arkansas’s Supreme Court.
I can write another one to the genuinely impressive Nate Steel in his bid to serve the real people of the state as our next attorney general.
Or I can have a bumper sticker printed that says, “There is no such thing as JUST a midterm election.”
Linda A. Farrell Bella Vista
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