LGBT rights in Arkansas
|LGBT rights in Arkansas|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Legal since 2002|
|Gender identity/expression||Altering sex on birth certificate requires SRS|
|Discrimination protections||None statewide|
|Same-sex marriage legal since 2014|
|Adoption||Legal since 2011|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of Arkansas face some legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Arkansas. Same-sex marriage in Arkansas became legal through a court ruling on May 9, 2014, subject to court stays and appeals.
Law regarding same-sex sexual activity
In 1838 Arkansas instituted the first statute against homosexual activity with a provision which read: "Every person convicted of sodomy or buggery will be imprisoned in the state penitentiary for not less than one year nor more than 21 years." This legislation was subsequently amended in 1977 to penalize only homosexual acts, or sexual acts occurring between humans and animals; but in effect decriminalized sodomy by making it a Class A misdemeanor.
In 2002, the Arkansas Supreme Court in Picado v. Jegley found that the state statute that made sexual relations between people of the same gender a criminal act was unconstitutional because the law violated a fundamental right to privacy and failed to provide the equal protection of the laws.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
On May 9, 2014, Sixth Judicial Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled the ban on same-sex marriage in the state of Arkansas was unconstitutional, which legalized same-sex marriage in the state. Subject to court stays and appeals. Previously same-sex marriage was banning in both state statute and the state constitution in Arkansas.
Adoption and parenting
Arkansas voters approved a ballot measure in November 2008, effective January 1, 2009, to prohibit by statute cohabiting couples who are not in a recognized marriage from adopting and providing foster care. On April 7, 2011, in Arkansas Department of Human Services v. Cole, the Arkansas Supreme Court unanimously found that the measure "fails to pass constitutional muster" because it "directly and substantially burdens the privacy rights of 'opposite-sex and same-sex individuals' who engage in private, consensual sexual conduct in the bedroom by foreclosing their eligibility to foster or adopt children, should they choose to cohabit with their sexual partner."
Arkansas law does not address discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
Arkansas has no hate crime statute that attaches penalties to criminal convictions when motivated by bias, but a state statute does allow victims to sue for damages or seek court-ordered relief for acts of intimidation, harassment, violence, or property damage "where such acts are motivated by racial, religious, or ethnic animosity", not sexual orientation or gender identity.
Arkansas law permits transsexuals born in Arkansas to amend their birth certificates upon receipt of a court order verifying that they have undergone sex-reassignment surgery and that their names have been changed.
- "Arkansas judge strikes down state ban on same-sex marriage". Reuters. May 9, 2014. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
- "Arkansas Sodomy Law". Hrc.org. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
- American Psychological Association: "Jegley v. Picado 80 S.W.3d 332", accessed April 7, 2011
- National Conference of State Legislatures: "Same-Sex Marriage on the 2008 Ballot," November 6, 2008, accessed April 16, 2011
- Metroweekly: Chris Geidner, "Arkansas High Court Strikes Down State's 2008 Adoption Ban," April 7, 2011, accessed April 7, 2011
- "Arkansas Non-Discrimination Law". Hrc.org. 2007-03-09. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
- "Municipal Equality Index". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
- "Arkansas Hate Crimes Law". State Laws & Legislation. Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
- "Hate Crime Laws". Partnersagainsthate.org. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
- "Arkansas Birth Certificate Law: Gender Identity Issues". Hrc.org. 2007-03-10. Retrieved 2013-11-02.