Judge Chris Piazza strikes down gay marriage ban
Judge Chris Piazza strikes down gay marriage ban

Judge Chris Piazza strikes down gay marriage ban

A judge on Friday struck down Arkansas’ ban on same-sex marriage, saying the state has “no rational reason” for preventing gay couples from marrying.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled that the 2004 voter-approved amendment to the state constitution violates the rights of same-sex couples.

“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,” Piazza wrote in a 13-page finding filed on Friday.

The state’s attorney general intends to appeal and will ask for a stay “so as not to create confusion or uncertainty about the law while the Supreme Court considers the matter,” spokesman Aaron Sadler said.

Seventeen states plus the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to marry. That number would increase sharply if federal court rulings striking down bans in several states are upheld on appeal.

Judge Piazza wrote that the state’s defense of the gay marriage ban was “eerily similar” to arguments made a half-century ago banning interracial marriage.

“The issue at hand is the fundamental right to marry being denied to an unpopular minority. Our judiciary has failed such groups in the past,” Piazza wrote.

The ban, approved overwhelmingly by Arkansas voters in 2004 as Amendment 83 to the state constitution, defined marriage as solely between a man and a woman. It denies legal recognition of same-sex marriages performed legally in other states.

“I’m thrilled. It’s long overdue and I’m just real proud of Arkansas. And I hope there’s no backlash on it,” said John Rankine, 59, an artist from Eureka Springs who was one of the plaintiffs in the suit.

The legal challenge was brought by 21 same-sex Arkansas couples who said the gay marriage prohibition violated their rights under both the U.S. and state constitutions.

The Family Council, a conservative education and research organization that pushed for the ban, said the judge was undermining the will of the people.

“This fight isn’t over and I look forward to a more sensible ruling from the Arkansas Supreme Court,” said Jerry Cox, the council’s president.


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    1. I don’t get it. What on Earth is it about law-abiding, taxpaying adult Gay couples getting married that terrifies so many people? These are couples who are in love, who have made a commitment to one another’s happiness and well-being. These are couples who in most cases already share a life together. Unless the Constitution (especially the 14th Amendment) applies only to people who are Straight (i.e. heterosexual), I can see no justification for denying law-abiding, taxpaying Gay couples the same legal benefits and opportunities that Straight couples have always taken for granted.

      What are people so fearful of? The marriage equality movement was never some sinister effort to make homosexuality compulsory for everyone. It won’t cause otherwise Straight people to marry other persons of the same sex. It will not require anyone to attend weddings for Gay couples. Conversely, denying Gay people the right to marry is not going to make Gay people turn Straight!

      What are people so fearful of? Is not love and commitment far more preferable to loneliness and promiscuity? Why does the joy of Gay couples getting married make so many people angry?

      • I believe that one reason is that fear has been as a motivating policy in politics – Mainly by the right – In the U.S. for the past several decades. If they can create enough fear then they can get votes from people who seem to be unaware that the true motivation is to move money from the middle classes to the upper classes (concepts based solely on income).

    2. I totally agree with you, especially since heterosexual marriage has been such a failure in our lifetime.

    3. I have a 54 year old lesbian sister who has been with her partner since college, 31 years ago. They have a wonderful daughter who is finishing her law degree this spring and is engaged to a young man who is in Med school.

      I also have a 56 year old brother how has been married 3 times, lived 4 years with another woman he never married, and is now planning a 4th wedding. He has 4 children by 2 different women. One of those children is in prison for a drug offense, 2 are high-school dropouts who shift from job to job with no success or motivation to succeed, and one committed suicide at 19 while high on drugs.

      Yet people a lot of people say gay marriage is going to be the ruin of American society. Seems they should look at all marriages in America before getting too judgmental.

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