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Arkansas

Eleven same-sex couples file lawsuit to overturn Ark. gay marriage ban

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A group of 11 same-sex couples from Arkansas on Tuesday asked a judge to overturn the state’s ban on gay marriage, the latest effort aimed at repealing the amendment after recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings supporting gay couples.

The lawsuit filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court seeks to strike down the constitutional amendment voters approved in 2004 that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The amendment also bars the state from recognizing same-sex marriages from other states.

“Gays and lesbians are a distinct group, singled out due to their sexual orientation to be denied rights enjoyed by all other adult groups,” the lawsuit states.

“They are unequal in the eyes of the state of Arkansas and their families are denied the same respect as officially sanctioned families of opposite-sex individuals.”

The lawsuit was filed less than a week after the U.S. Supreme Court issued two rulings supporting same-sex couples.

Justices on June 26 cleared the way for gay marriages to resume in California and struck down a federal law denying benefits to married gay couples. Justices, however, did not rule on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.

The day after the ruling, a group asked the Arkansas attorney general’s office to approve the language of a proposed ballot measure that would repeal the 2004 amendment. If the language is certified by the AG’s office, the group must gather at least 78,133 signatures from registered voters to get the measure on the ballot next year.

Four of the couples suing the state were legally married in Iowa. Several of the couples suing sought marriage licenses from their county clerks but were turned down, according to the suit.

A spokesman for Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said his office was still reviewing the lawsuit.

The head of the conservative group that campaigned for the amendment in 2004 said he wasn’t sure how the couples could challenge the ban in state court since it’s written in the Arkansas constitution. Jerry Cox, president of the Family Council, said he was confident the amendment could withstand any legal challenge.

“If the Arkansas marriage amendment was legally suspect, it would have been challenged a long time ago,” Cox said. “This law has been on the books for almost 10 years, and it’s as solid as any marriage law anywhere in the country.”

Cheryl Maples, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said she believed state court was the best venue to challenge the amendment, which she said conflicted with the Arkansas constitution’s guarantee of equal rights. She cited the state Supreme Court’s ruling in 2002 striking down Arkansas’ anti-sodomy law as unconstitutional.

In 2011, the state Supreme Court struck down an initiated act approved by voters that banned unmarried couples living together from adopting or fostering children. That ban was aimed primarily at gay couples.

“I think that enough change has taken place in the last 10 years that it’s time for this to be heard,” Maples said.

A copy of the suit is here.

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Filed under: Arkansas

44 more reader comments:

  1. Yay! The tide is turning … moving forward – love it! :)

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:32pm
  2. Every state that doesn’t recognize will face lawsuits till we have equal rights in all 50 states. Yes!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:34pm
  3. Good luck there, if it succeeds I would be stunned! I mean sure it is Bill Clinton’s state, but it is also Huckabee’s.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:34pm
  4. lol

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:35pm
  5. Hence the term “UNITED STATES”?

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:35pm
  6. Not going to happen (but I hope it does).

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:35pm
  7. Awesome!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:36pm
  8. Love love love this! So happy my state CA had prop 8 pass and overturned

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:36pm
  9. I wish them the best but I’m from Arkansas & they can be pretty IGNORANT….*fingers crossed*

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:37pm
  10. Good luck with this state!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:37pm
  11. I think anytime you even raise the question and get people talking about equality they begin to understand. If they don’t win, I am sure the equality numbers will go up a d who knows when they will reach equality in Arkansas

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:39pm
  12. I’m all in favor lately of those most hate infested countries seceding.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:39pm
  13. and so it begins … :)

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:40pm
  14. get em ride em hard they cant take it all without a #condom

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:40pm
  15. Sorry to put a damper on people’s celebration, but this doesn’t make any sense. You cannot use a State constitutions guarantee of equality to void another part of the States constitution. If they are arguing federal equal protection, that is one thing, but State Equal Protection? This isn’t going anywhere and will be dismissed.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:45pm
  16. Rrrrrawrrr get’em!! :-D. Gotta start somewhere

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:46pm
  17. Proud of you! Hang in there. We have been at it for 4 years in Montana!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:49pm
  18. the ripple is turning into waves….

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:50pm
  19. Good luck to them

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:51pm
  20. Good luck. I hope they win, but Arkansas is controlled by the Republican party. I live in Arkansas. Every state should allow gay marriage because eventually its going to happen anyways. I stand with President Obama

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:53pm
  21. Good for them! I bet Mike Huckelbigot is pissed!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:53pm
  22. You GO Arkansas!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:56pm
  23. Though, Arkansas is a little more gay friendly then some of the surrounding states in the south. We also have a marriage initiative we are trying to get on the ballots.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:56pm
  24. I hope this does get over turned so my bf and I can get married

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:56pm
  25. Alright Florida,It’s our turn…Let us same-sex couples come together and file now Our law suit.And fight for our rights to Marry.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:57pm
  26. I hope it works!!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:58pm
  27. But you also got to remember that Mark Pryor (D) did not come out in support of gay marriage and rights.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 5:58pm
  28. Yay my state.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 6:08pm
  29. Not sure I agree that this isn’t going anywhere. the general consensus is that eventually one of these state lawsuits will make their way back to the supreme court.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 6:20pm
  30. I pray that it gets over turned, the midwest states here are going to be the hardest challenge yet. <3

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 6:21pm
  31. The problem is that they filed in state court. They should have filed in the federal district court there.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 6:25pm
  32. YES

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 6:31pm
  33. Awesome

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 6:39pm
  34. Good luck

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 7:19pm
  35. Randy, it being in State Court…it will no go anywhere – as State courts are bound by the State Constitution (which is what the claim is under). Considering that the State Constitution defines marriage as one man one woman it doesn’t have a chance.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 7:38pm
  36. I think it’s time to forget about democracy and the idea of majority rules and just let the minority have it’s way with everything. Then maybe people would shut up and get to work instead of filing lawsuits, marching in the streets and everything else other than going to a job each day.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 7:38pm
  37. Come on, Bitches, defend discrimination…you know where it will end up. [=] <- THATS WHERE.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 7:41pm
  38. Yes ! Go get ‘em !!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 8:02pm
  39. so the state supreme court doesn’t have jurisdiction to declare it unconstitutional? isn’t that what happened in iowa. just asking, i’m not a lawyer.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 8:04pm
  40. Randy, they would have jurisdiction…but the State Supreme Court interprets the State Constitution. Since the State Constitution prohibits marriage equality, these couples cannot base their challenge on that (which is what they seem to be doing). In Iowa, there was no Constitutional ban, only a statutory ban – ergo, the Iowa Supreme Court could find – and did find – that the anti-gay statute violated the Iowa Constitution.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 8:10pm
  41. We all know the REAL government of Arkansas is Wal-mart.

    Eventually you’ll be able to get married and buy large quantities of ketchup for a low price at the same store.

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 8:21pm
  42. In Ar-Kansas? Lawdy mercy!

    Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 9:50pm
  43. you go Gay Pride….

    Posted on Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 2:36am
  44. Good luck with that in Arkansas! I hope you the best! Lean Forward!

    Posted on Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 8:24am