Democratic candidate for Arkansas attorney general says same-sex couples deserve rights; Republican says marriage, unions are the same
LITTLE ROCK Democratic attorney general nominee Dustin McDaniel said Monday he supports the state’s ban on gay marriage but said Arkansas couples who cannot marry should be allowed to enter civil unions.
“I think the people should have the right to determine who has access to their medical records, who you buy and sell property with, who you transfer property to, your inheritance rights,” McDaniel said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“If two people want to go into a relationship where they can co-own a home or share medical records with one another, get to see each other in the hospital, those kinds of things, I think the law should protect those rights,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel was interviewed Monday at the Associated Press’ office in Little Rock. In a separate AP interview, Republican nominee Gunner DeLay said he was opposed to civil unions and gay foster parents.
DeLay described civil unions as an end-run around a constitutional ban on gay marriage overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2004.
“I just don’t understand what’s being denied that they feel the need for this civil union,” DeLay said. “A civil union is gay marriage.”
DeLay also said he supports reinstating a ban on gay foster parents that was overturned by the state Supreme Court in June. DeLay said he thinks such a ban would withstand any challenges because gays and lesbians are not a protected class.
DeLay said he thinks the best environment for foster children is a home with a married couple, but stopped short of calling for a ban on single people serving as foster parents.
“I hope the department would give a priority to married couples,” DeLay said.
Green Party nominee Rebekah Kennedy will appear on the Nov. 7 general election ballot.
McDaniel said allowing gay couples particular rights would not open the door for gay marriage in the state because voters, in a change to the state constitution in 2004, overwhelmingly declared that marriage can include only one man and one woman.
“Marriage is different from civil unions and other areas where protections can be applied without intruding on our traditional values and definition of marriage,” McDaniel said. “It is a part of the Arkansas constitution. I believe marriage is between one man and one woman.”
McDaniel also said he supports reinstating a ban on gay foster parents that was overturned by the state Supreme Court in June, but said the best way to reinstate the ban would be through a prohibition on unmarried cohabitating couples serving as foster parents.
McDaniel said he doesn’t believe gay people are inherently a risk to children.
“The court last time said there was no evidence that gay foster parents would not provide a safe environment and so they struck down the regulation, so our court has already given an indication of what they think,” he said.
“There is a difference between homosexuality and pedophilia,” McDaniel said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, October 20, 2006.