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Judicial ruling expected soon on Arkansas' same-sex marriage ban

"I love coming to work when the facts are all on my side," said an Arkansas attorney last week following his arguments in court on behalf of a number of couples challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

Arkansas enacted that ban against same-sex couplings in 2004, pursuant to a popular vote initiative that resulted in an amendment to the state's constitution. The state has dug in its heels hard since then in defense of the ban, notwithstanding liberalizing changes that have occurred in recent years in a number of states.

Notably, the United States Supreme Court struck down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year that defined marriage as legally existing only between heterosexual couples. Reportedly, every case addressing gender equality since then in both federal and various state courts has ruled in favor of equality for same-sex couples.

That is irrelevant, argued a state attorney in a hearing held last week before a Pulaski County judge, who says that he will issue a ruling within two weeks.

That attorney stated that there is no conflict between federal and state law, given that the federal government “has no interest in regulating marriage.” The U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued last year, noted the attorney, had no legal bearing on Arkansas’ -- or any other state’s -- determinations regarding marriage rights.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys strongly argued otherwise, calling the state law unconstitutional. One of them said there was no rational basis for the amendment, stating that it was fueled by “pure animus” against gay couples.

Same-sex marital and divorce rights, as well myriad other issues relevant in domestic partnerships, are in flux both nationally and at the local level.

A Little Rock family law attorney that regularly represents lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and couples can provide strong advocacy in any legal matter.

Source: Arkansas News, "Judge to rule on Arkansas' same-sex marriage ban within two weeks," John Lyon, April 17, 2014

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