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Arkansas

Hearing begins in challenge to Ark. same-sex marriage ban

Thursday, December 12, 2013

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Lawyers for the state and the Faulkner County clerk asked a judge Thursday to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to allow gay marriages in Arkansas.

A number of same-sex couples sued in July, two weeks after the U.S Supreme Court issued two rulings supporting gay-marriage laws. They claim a 2004 constitutional amendment approved by Arkansas voters, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, should be thrown out.

ArkansasSome of the couples want Arkansas to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Others want the opportunity to marry. They say the federal court decision supports them.

But Assistant Attorney General Colin Jorgenson said the voters’ will – Amendment 83 passed by a 3-1 margin – could not be thrown out because the state’s residents had a right to determine their own constitution.

“Domestic relations laws are the province of the states,” he said, adding the U.S. Supreme Court rulings “did not say states must recognize same-sex marriage.”

At the end of a three-hour hearing, the judge did not indicate when he might rule – or how, telling lawyers that he typically knows which way he is leaning while considering a request to throw out a case.

“I’m floating on a creek right now,” Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza said.

The couples claim that the state’s constitution includes a provision that guarantees rights for all people. Jorgenson says that while that is true, the people can make changes.

“That’s what the people have done with Amendment 83,” he said.

Jorgenson also said an 1851 case cited by the couples as a precedent – which saw a constitutional amendment overturned – involved a change made by legislators. Jorgenson said that decision made clear that the people have the right to make the same change.

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In addition to the request to end the lawsuit, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza was asked to prevent the state from enforcing the anti-gay-marriage amendment.

That injunction request applied only to couples who were married out-of-state but are not recognized as married here. Lawyer Jack Wagoner said one couple is expecting a child in early 2014 and wants to register as a same-sex couple on the child’s birth certificate.

Wagoner said it would be an extraordinary step for Piazza to dismiss the lawsuit outright. He said a preliminary injunction was in order because the couples were suffering irreparable harm by the state not recognizing their relationships.

Wagoner said it was wrong for Jorgenson to say the couples were only being denied a right to “same-sex marriage.” He said the couples were being denied a right simply to marriage, and cited a 1978 case that said the right to marry is a fundamental right for all individuals.

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34 more reader comments:

  1. Iva Musick

    Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 10:41pm
  2. They’re in challenge to Arkansas the ban? Fail on the author’s part.

    Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 10:46pm
  3. Actually that is grammatically correct. Hearing begins in the challenge to the ban.

    Replied on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 10:48pm
  4. The natural state? What’s more natural than 2 people loving each other?

    Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 10:46pm
  5. How about “the unnatural state”

    Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 10:48pm
  6. So it must be natural to do a little somethin somethin with your cousin and two sisters then :)

    Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 10:54pm
  7. I am originally from AR…I do not see anything changing there anytime soon.

    Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 10:55pm
  8. Anything can happen.

    Replied on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 11:13pm
  9. I agree Jamie Martin

    Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 10:57pm
  10. Jamie. The courts always change things before the people do!

    Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 11:04pm
  11. as oppose to what? the fake states? xD

    Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 11:06pm
  12. Yeah, what?

    Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 11:22pm
  13. More assholes are making their fucked up views known.

    Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 11:28pm
  14. hahahahhaha I think it is great but I bet the duggar clan has a lot to say about it hahahahahahah go Arkansas !! we support u

    Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 11:29pm
  15. Keep the fight going! Eventually there will be gay marriage everywhere in the US:

    Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 11:49pm
  16. Unless they get rid of technology, medicine, and everything else humankind has invented, they’re just as unnatural as the rest of us.

    Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 11:58pm
  17. In Arkansas now there is a large lgbt population here and we deserve the right to marry

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 12:28am
  18. Oh my gosh yay! Finally they’re challenging the ban in my state!

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 12:46am
  19. As backwoods as Arkansas is, it is still home and you guys are being unneccessarily rude. What happened to supporting the lgbt fight? Also, “technology”?? “The Natural State” is reference to the land.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 12:49am
  20. If I am elected as Florida Attorney General, I will advocate that the holding in Windsor ensures that every Florida citizen receives the full protection of our State and Federal Constitutions, by showing that the state’s denial to committed same-sex couples of financial and social benefits and privileges that are given to their married heterosexual counterparts bears no substantial relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose. Such unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex couples can no longer be tolerated under Florida’s Constitution. TALLAHASSEE: WOHLSIFER FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL – With optimistic enthusiasm I hereby officially announce my candidacy to be your next Attorney General. I filed the candidate papers at the Florida Department of State yesterday, with my wife, at 4:21 PM. I have been “certified” by the Libertarian Party of Florida as a vetted and approved party candidate, making me Florida’s first Libertarian candidate for Attorney General.

    Now is the time to make this campaign known. Libertarians do not get the same free press coverage that Republicans and Democrats enjoy, so we rely on grassroots support, from the bottom up, like it should be, not from the top down, which is generally what is put upon the voters.

    Through social medial, lawn signs, and intelligent discussion (no rhetoric here) we can get the message out that there is a candidate for Florida Attorney General in 2014 who intends to restore and preserve our civil liberties without compromising the rule of law.

    Please visit the Committee to Elect Bill Wohlsifer’s website at http://www.wohlsifer4AG.com, my campaign Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/bill.wohlsifer, Tweet me @wohlsifer and find my professional profile at LinkedIn.

    I am now accepting volunteers and donations. I particularly need the assistance of a Volunteer Coordinator, a Deputy Treasurer and several Regional Campaign Managers.

    Please Comment, Like, and Share this message, spread the word around, campaign for liberty, support the Committee to Elect Bill Wohlsifer and do your part to help elect an Attorney General in Tallahassee who is both fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Thank you! Bill Wohlsifer

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 12:56am
  21. This is just the beginning towards EQUALITY FOR THE LGBTQI in Arkansas. Let’s keep it optimistic and positive state of mind. People is change for attitude and perception to LGBTQI PEOPLE.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 1:07am
  22. Will be saying a prayer!

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 1:19am
  23. hell,,no

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 2:05am
  24. I think it’s actually much more possible than those who have obviously never been to Arkansas and stubbornly hold on to stereotypes might think. Anyone who’s been to and/or lived in Eureka Springs knows there are plenty of out and proud LGBT, and Allies, in Arkansas. I urge anyone on this thread, and anyone else who’s never been to Arkansas but wants to appear like they know what they’re talking about to look into Eureka Springs, as well as the LGBT communities in Fayetteville, Ft Smith, as well as plenty of other places.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 2:07am
  25. Come on Arkansas!!! I want to get married some day!! Would love to be able to do it in my own state!

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 3:10am
  26. Jamie Martin I’m originally from there, too.
    I hope things change for the better.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 4:39am
  27. Bible Belt or not, Arkansas actually has a fairly large ally community-one reason why (to the best of my knowledge) “gay panic” beatings don’t really happen here. We have a real shot! Just gotta move forward!:-)

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 6:25am
  28. I wish I could ‘love’ this. It’s about damn time. Need both my homes to recognize the LBGTQ people and same-sex marriage…then I’ll be set for life. <3

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 7:04am
  29. I hope all 50 states can have marriage equality. As, a Arkansas resident I hope it becomes reality. I love my fiancé with all my heart and we all deserve the same equality as heteros!

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 8:16am
  30. I am glad they are at least talking about LGBT brcause good things will come from that for alll gay men and women.

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 11:49am
  31. For those who know little about Arkansas, there is a lot of momentum here. There are two groups working on a ballot initiative for marriage equality, we have this lawsuit, little rock just recently had an article in Edge about how little rock could become the next lgbt travel destination because of our decent LGBT nightlife scene and our art scene (I don’t agree with that statement 100% but it’s really not that bad). The political climate is very conservative, but I believe things will be changing

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 4:40pm
  32. Fukk you arkansas hillbilly incest mfers

    Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 4:53pm
  33. we shall prevail! OBAMA#1

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 2:50am
  34. How can a place be a “Natural State”, let alone be unique in that classification?

    Posted on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 7:24am