Opponents say city council violated state consitution
EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. – The Eureka Springs City Council unanimously approved a proposal Monday, May 14, to create a domestic partner registry.
The registry is set to take effect June 13 unless the issue is brought to the public via referendum.
Dani Wilson, the resort city’s mayor, hailed the passage as an important step for human rights. But the measure had several opponents as well. Rev. Philip Wilson, pastor of the First Christian Church of Eureka Springs, said he would like the public to vote on the issue. He said he needs 144 signatures to force a referendum.
The general public was not allowed inside the council chambers in the Carroll County Courthouse only media had access. Supporters and opponents gathered outside and monitors were set up for the public to watch.
This was the third reading of the proposed registry by the City Council, and it passed each time.
The self-proclaimed “Wedding Capital of the South,” Eureka Springs supports both a hippie community and a strong conservative Christian population. The town simultaneously boasts weekly gay and lesbian events and a museum dedicated to creationism. Nearby is the well-known Christ of the Ozarks statue.
Each year, more than 4,000 wedding licenses are issued in Eureka Springs, which has a population around 2,300.
Dani Wilson said previously the registry could benefit both heterosexual and gay couples. As an example, she said an elderly couple afraid they’ll lose Social Security benefits if they marry could enter their names in the registry to note that they are together.
But Jerry Cox, president of the Arkansas Family Council, has said the registry would violate a 2004 state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
According to the Human Right’s Campaign website, www.hrc.org, there are no other towns or counties in Arkansas that offer a domestic partner registry.
The only place to offer one in Texas is:
Office of Deputy Clerk
1000 Guadalupe St., #222
Austin, TX 78701
Domestic partner registries being used by LGBT people are traceable back to New York City in 1993.
Domestic partner registries themselves found their momentum in the 1970s when former hippies decided they didn’t want to be married, but they did want the rights asscoiated with the act.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 18, 2007