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Couples ask Ark. Supreme Court to deny stay in same-sex marriage case

Monday, August 18, 2014
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Couples challenging Arkansas’ gay marriage ban have asked the state Supreme Court to deny the state’s request to delay proceedings in the lawsuit pending a possible U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a similar case.

Arkansas Supreme Court building in Little Rock.

Arkansas Supreme Court building in Little Rock.

A Pulaski County judge threw out the state’s same-sex marriage ban in May and more than 500 same-sex couples received marriage licenses before the state’s high court issued an emergency stay.

Earlier this month, the state’s attorneys asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to suspend proceedings until the U.S. Supreme Court rules in a similar case.

The state’s request cited Utah’s same-sex marriage case, which has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court after a federal appeals court ruled that states cannot deny same-sex couples the fundamental right to marry.

But attorneys representing the Arkansas couples argued in a court filing Friday that the state’s Supreme Court doesn’t need to wait for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling to move forward.

“Even if a ruling by the Supreme Court ultimately addresses some issues in this case, the plaintiffs will still be harmed by the delay of waiting for that decision, which could be months or years from now,” the filing said.

The couples’ attorneys contend that the state hasn’t shown any proof it would be harmed if the stay was lifted, but that same-sex couples would suffer if it remained in place.

“Each day that passes prolongs plaintiffs’ irreparable injuries, continuing the deprivation of plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, and extends uncertainty about the scope of profoundly important constitutional protections within the state,” the court filing said.

The U.S. Supreme Court is under no obligation to take Utah’s case, and no timeline has been set on when a decision could be made. The Arkansas Supreme Court is expected to consider the state’s gay marriage case sometime after it returns from summer break in September.

Follow this case: Wright v. Arkansas.

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