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Arkansas judge speaks: Gay marriage bans unlawful

An Arkansas judge stated in late April that he would quickly issue a ruling on whether the state's 2004 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage passes legal muster.

As promised, that ruling on same-sex marriage was announced in timely fashion, with Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza's decision this past Friday reverberating instantly across the state and resulting in a flurry of activity.

Calling Arkansas' amendment "an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality," Piazzi struck it down. He also struck down a 1997 state law banning same-sex marriage.

We discussed the background of this seminal story in a recent blog post (please see our entry dated April 24, 2014), noting the state’s hard and enduring stance taken on the matter.

State Attorney General Dustin McDaniel noted in April that the federal government has no interest in regulating marriage and that federal law has no bearing on how Arkansas -- or any other state -- regulates marriages.

McDaniel says he will appeal the ruling to the Arkansas Supreme Court. In an interesting aside, it has been reported that McDaniel is the first elected official in Arkansas to publicly state that he personally supports same-sex marriage.

McDaniel and many others had hoped that Piazza would issue a stay immediately following his ruling and pending further litigation on the matter. He didn’t, and that had quick consequences.

Notably, 15 marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples in the wake of Piazza’s ruling.

We will keep readers posted on further developments, including, centrally, any state Supreme Court response.

Source: ABC News, "Arkansas plans to appeal same-sex marriage ruling," Christina Huynh, May 11, 2014

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