Friday, May 09, 2014

Arkansas Judge Strikes Down State's Bans On Marriage Equality

A local judge in Arkansas has struck down both a 1997 prohibition of same-sex marriage and a voter-approved 2004 constitutional amendment doing the same thing. This is just another domino in the string of judicial decisions recognizing that there is no rational basis for denying the fundamental right to marry to persons in same-sex relationships.

In his brief, 13-page ruling, Judge Chris Piazza said:
The Arkansas Supreme Court applied a heightened scrutiny and struck down as unconstitutional an initiated act that prohibited unmarried opposite-sex and same-sex couples from adopting children. The exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage for no rational basis violates the fundamental right to privacy and equal protection as described in Jegley and Cole, supra. The difference between opposite-sex and same-sex families is within the privacy of their homes. 
THEREFORE, THIS COURT HEREBY FINDS the Arkansas constitutional and legislative ban on same-sex marriage through Act 144 of 1997 and Amendment 83 is unconstitutional. 
It has been over forty years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice. The hatred and fears have long since vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together; so it will be for the same-sex couples. 
It is time to let that beacon of freedom shine brighter on all our brothers and sisters. We will be stronger for it.
Piazza also refused to place a stay on the effect of his ruling, which means that couples could be issued marriage licenses as soon as tomorrow morning when some County Clerk offices are open on Saturdays.

The Attorney General of Arkansas (A Democrat who last week announced he personally support marriage equality but will continue to defend the ban on same-sex marriage in court) has announced that he will request that the judge issue a stay while the matter is on appeal before the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Hat/tip to Washington Blade

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