An Arkansas judge struck down the state’s 2004 amendment prohibiting same sex marriage on Friday, ruling that the ban violates the state constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
“Arkansas’ s marriage laws discriminate against same-sex couples in violation of the Equal Protection Clause because they do not advance any conceivable legitimate state interest necessary to support even a rational basis review,” circuit Judge Chris Piazza wrote. The case, Wright v. Arkansas, involved more than 40 plaintiffs, including a “mix of unmarried same-sex couples, families seeking respect for their out-of-state marriages, and children of gay and lesbian Arkansans.”
Citing Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court case eliminating the ban on interracial marriage, Piazza argued that “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.”
Last week, state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced that while he supports marriage equality, he will continue to defend the state’s constitutional ban. Piazza did not stay his ruling, allowing same-sex couples to marry as early as Monday, though McDaniel’s office is expected to quickly appeal the decision.
Since the Supreme Court struck down a section of the Defense of Marriage Act in June of 2012, at least eight other judges have invalidated laws prohibiting same-sex marriage. This includes judges in Illinois, Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, Texas, and Michigan.
In 2004, 75 percent of voters approved the state’s ban against same-sex marriage.