LITTLE ROCK — The Senate on Monday rejected two measures calling for a convention of states to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage and abortion.
Senate Joint Resolution 7 and SJR 9, both by Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, both fell one vote short of the 18 votes needed for passage. Rapert successfully moved to expunge both votes so he could bring the measures back later.
SJR 7 calls for Arkansas to request a convention of states to propose a constitutional amendment “prohibiting the United States Constitution or the constitutions or laws of any state from defining or construing the definition of ‘marriage’ to mean other than the union of one man and one woman.”
The proposal received 17 votes in support and seven against, with 10 members declining to vote and one not present.
SJR 9 would request a convention to propose an amendment “providing that every human being from the moment of conception is a person and entitled to the right to life.”
The measure received 17 votes in support and six against, with 11 members declining to vote.
On both proposals, the senators who cast votes split along party lines, with Republicans voting yes and Democrats voting no.
Under Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution, 34 states would have to call for a constitutional convention for one to be held. A proposed amendment would have to be ratified by 38 states to become part of the Constitution.
Rapert told senators Monday that an “activist judiciary” is to blame for the legalization of gay marriage and abortion.
“Every single year that passes … I further don’t recognize what America is,” he said.
Sen. Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock, spoke against SJR 7.
“Why does it bother you if a person pursues his or her happiness in his or her own way?” she said. “That’s supposed to be fundamental in this country. We ought to have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, regardless of our race or creed or gender preference.”
Rapert told senators, “I’m going to come back.”
Last month, the Senate rejected a resolution by Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, calling for a convention of states to amend the Constitution to limit the power of the federal government. Stubblefield’s proposal received 13 votes in support and 17 against.