ISawArkansas

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There’s no doubt that this is a rugged planet to live on – discombobulated and unclear and a lot of work.

We have an obit this week for Cheryl Maples that says she got married on the same day she graduated from high school, had five children, more than twice that many grandchildren, and squeezed college and a law degree in between.

She devoted herself to civil rights, fairness, equality, and an intelligent interpretation of the Arkansas Constitution. She argued that voters could not simply vote in a change to an inalienable right. Her interest was that Arkansas wanted an amendment defining marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. Because of her compelling moral arguments, that amendment was tossed in the wastepaper basket and hundreds of same sex couples in Arkansas got marriage licenses.

Of course that caused a legal and religious uproar, mostly from people who were unaffected but opinionated.

Pretty soon the state Supreme Court said no, everyone breathe, we have to think this through. In the meantime, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was all just fine that adults in love were free to live long and prosper together. Or at least enter into tax deals together, if that’s how they viewed marriage.

Mrs. Maples was merely saying that it isn’t fair that some people have government sanctioned economic advantages, but not all people. All people qualified for paying the same taxes, after all.

 We bring this up because when this happened our newspaper was young and scrapping to keep the doors open and the heat on. We had no idea where our next paycheck wasn’t going to come from.

But on that Saturday morning in May 2014 when it became legal for same sex couples to take the plunge, and Carroll County was the only place in Arkansas for them to get a marriage license because it had the only courthouse open on Saturday, we came to work.

Then Jeremy or Geoffrey from the BBC called wanting to interview us about Arkansas gay rights and we were famous overnight because of one woman who believed in the U.S. Constitution and happened to live in Arkansas.

And yes, famous is the wrong word, but we felt famous. All because we came in to work on a Saturday and answered the phone.

That won’t happen again.

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