The Arkansas Senate voted 19–9 on Tuesday to ban same-sex marriage — everywhere.
Despite the fact marriage equality has been the law of the land for the better part of two years, the Republican-controlled Arkansas Senate wants to amend the U.S. Constitution to reverse that. Senate Joint Resolution 7 proposes a Constitutional convention specifically to add an amendment prohibiting the recognition of any marriage not between a man and a woman:
Nothing in this Constitution or in the constitution or laws of any state may define or be construed to define marriage except as the union of one man and one woman, and no other union shall be recognized with legal incidents thereof within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
While they were at it, the Senate also voted 18–9 for a similar resolution that would add an amendment declaring that life begins at conception — which would thus overturn the right to an abortion.
It’s possible that neither of these resolutions will amount to much. They first have to pass the Arkansas House of Representatives, but then they also require 33 other states to agree for a convention to be held. For any of the amendments to pass at such a convention, 38 states would have to ratify it.
But though the Constitution is generally quite difficult to amend, the likelihood of a convention is not as far-fetched as it might seem considering the Arkansas plan in isolation. The conservative legislation-drafting organization ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) is championing a push for a constitutional convention, and some 27 states already support such a convention for the sake of a balanced budget amendment — with several more state legislatures considering such petitions this year.
Though petitions like Arkansas’ generally reference a specific goal in initiating a convention, there’s nothing in the Constitution that limits what could be considered at one. In other words, states could use a balanced budget amendment to motivate a convention, but then amendments to ban abortion and same-sex marriage would be fair game there too. And with Republicans currently controlling 32 state legislatures, they would have a significant amount of influence at such a convention.
Arkansas isn’t the only state that hasn’t given up on banning same-sex marriage. The Texas Supreme Court is still considering a case regarding whether employees’ same-sex spouses deserve the same benefits as different-sex spouses. Oral arguments are Wednesday.