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Flurry of judicial activity on same-sex marriages nationally

Earlier this month, an Arkansas judge ruled that a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2004 that banned gay legal unions in the state was unconstitutional. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazzi struck down an earlier state law banning gay marriage at the same time (please see our post entry dated May 13, 2014).

Much has happened nationally since that momentous same-sex marriage ruling, which Arkansas' attorney general has appealed to the state's Supreme Court, notwithstanding his expressed personal view that he supports gay marriages.

For one thing, Oregon and Pennsylvania have since joined a growing list of states that have lifted gay marriage bans, with federal judges in both those states striking down laws prohibiting same-sex marriages. Currently 19 states and the District of Columbia have laws providing for same-sex legal unions.

What was notable in Oregon and Pennsylvania and is happening in some other states is that attorneys general are opting not to challenge judicial rulings that strike down existing state legislation banning gay marriages. That reluctance to step forth and defend discriminatory state laws has been especially apparent in the wake of last year's United States Supreme Court ruling that overturned a central provision in the Defense of Marriage Act.

Kentucky's attorney general has stated, for example, that he will not challenge a federal court decision that is counter to state law. Virginia's attorney general has said the same thing.

Of course, not all states are duly aligned in their thinking. As we noted, the Arkansas judicial ruling is on appeal, and officials in a number of other states have indicated that they will defend against federal challenges to their existing laws that ban same-sex marriages.

We will of course pass along news of any major developments that occur in Arkansas regarding this important subject matter.

Source: Quincy Herald-Whig, "Legal fight over gay marriage spreads to 30 states," Carson Walker and Brady McCombs (Associated Press), May 22, 2014

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