Even though same-sex couples cannot legally marry in Arkansas, many choose to hold a formal commitment ceremony that feels just a like a wedding.

Just like heterosexual couples, some Arkansas same-sex couples choose to publish an announcement of their commitment ceremony. Sadly, sometimes these couples aren’t given equal treatment by their local newspapers.

Last month, two Arkansas men submitted a wedding announcement to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. However, since the men are not able to legally marry, the paper said it was against their policy to publish the couple’s announcement.

After the story broke, the Arkansas Times agreed to publish the couple’s announcement.

Legal Protections for Arkansas Same-Sex Couples

Of course, this is likely not the only hurdle the two men will face as they seek to formalize their relationship.

Arkansas same-sex couples experience a number of nontraditional family law issues that heterosexual couples do not.

For example, same-sex couples are not afforded the legal rights that heterosexual couples receive when they are married. Instead, most same-sex couples will need to visit a family law attorney who can help them draft a domestic partnership agreement. These agreements can codify each partner’s financial obligations, put legal protections in place in the event that one partner becomes ill and much more.

Same-sex couples who choose to have children will likely need additional protections. Currently, Arkansas does not recognize “second parent adoptions,” meaning that only one partner in a same-sex couple can be recognized as the legal parent of a child. An experienced family law attorney can help protect the non-biological or non-adoptive parent’s rights. This is especially important if the couple splits up and the parent wants to maintain a connection with the child.

Arkansas same-sex couples entering into a domestic partnership would be wise to consult with a family law attorney who can help protect their rights.

Source: Instinct Magazine, “Arkansas Paper Refuses to Print Gay Couple’s Commitment Ceremony Announcement,” Jan. 24, 2012.