Corey, and their wedding Officiant Jon Etienne Mourot (left).
On Monday, May 12, 2014, former ACLU clients Shane Frazier and Curtis Chatham started their day like most others, getting up and getting their four year-old son Corey dressed and ready for the day. However, that day was quite different than most for the Little Rock family because, for the first time during their 12-year relationship, it was legal for Shane and Curtis to get married in Arkansas.
A May 9 ruling by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza made it possible for them to marry. Shane and Curtis were married by Officiant Jon Etienne Mourot in the rotunda of the Pulaski County courthouse. They were surrounded by other couples doing the same. ACLU of Arkansas Executive Director Rita Sklar was in the courthouse taking in the joyous scene when she happened upon the couple and a little boy. “This,” they said, pointing to the little boy” is the result of your work.” Needless to say, Sklar says that she was overwhelmed.
Curtis Chatham (left), Shane Frazier (right), and their son, Corey.
Although Shane and Curtis were legally joined as a family only this year, their story of fighting for their rights as a family actually began in 2008, when they attempted to foster and eventually adopt a child who needed a home. The couple was told they could not be adoptive or foster parents because they were gay. After Arkansas voters passed Act 1, the couple joined as two of the plaintiffs in Cole v. Arkansas. The case eventually reached the Arkansas Supreme Court, which overturned Act 1.)
“We joined the Act 1 lawsuit because the law was just wrong; multitudes of kids in need of loving, secure homes were being denied this because of someone else’s opinion for what defines a family,” said the couple. “Because of the ACLU’s work to overturn Act 1, we were granted the rights necessary to adopt our Corey.”
Shane and Curtis first met Corey in October 2012 when he was two and one-half years old. After serving as his foster parents for eight months, the couple officially adopted Corey in June 2013.
When asked how being married has changed their lives, the couple told ACLU of Arkansas that “being granted a marriage license eliminated a void that housed some unspoken concerns about what the future would hold for our family. All of the personal legal actions we’d taken to protect each other and our family suddenly became an added security rather than the only security. Corey can be raised knowing his family holds every right that other families hold, and he will not have to walk the halls of his school thinking he is a second class citizen, or that his parents’ relationship isn’t as ‘valid’ as his friends’ parents’.”
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ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:
Arkansas Supreme Court to Hear Voter ID Case October 2nd
Marriage Equality in Arkansas: One Week of Joy
Marriage Equality in Arkansas: A Timeline
2014 Rights of Spring Honorees: Adjoa Aiyetoro is Civil Libertarian of the Year
Letter from the Executive Director: Ferguson is Everytown, U.S.A.
On the Docket: September 2014
In the Spotlight: Scott Raper and Jillian Fisher
In Memorium: Judge John Norman Harkey, Founding Member of the ACLU of Arkansas