Saturday, May 17, 2014

158.2 - Good News: same-sex marriage comes to Arkansas

Good News: same-sex marriage comes to Arkansas

Here's some more good news from a different part of the country: The right of same-sex marriage has moved south.

On Friday, May 9, Pulaski County - that's in Arkansas - Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled that a 2004 state amendment banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and violates the rights of same-sex couples.

He called it "an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality" and a "dangerous precedent" that excludes a minority "for no rational reason."

In his decision, Piazza cited the US Supreme Court's 1967 decision in Loving v. Virginia, which invalidated laws on interracial marriage.
It has been over 40 years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice. The hatred and fears have long since vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together; so it will be for the same-sex couples. It is time to let that beacon of freedom shine brighter on all our brothers and sisters. We will be stronger for it
He didn't put his ruling on hold pending appeal, although state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has said he intends to file such an appeal to the state Supreme Court. McDaniel has actually said that he supports same-sex marriage rights, but feels constrained by the duties of his office to defend to state's position in court.

Piazza's decision came on a Friday afternoon. Normally, county clerks' offices in Arkansas are not open on weekends, but the state is in its early-voting period for a May 20 primary, so several clerks' offices were open the next day, Saturday. And despite the short notice, one of those offices, that of Carroll County, issued the state's first same-sex marriage license. The couple wed immediately after on the sidewalk near the courthouse.

Fourteen other Carroll County same-sex couples received marriage licenses the same day.

Remember, the case is on appeal and so this is not etched in stone - but it is another blow against the empire of bigotry.

And as a quick sidebar, the morning of the day to tape the show, I learned that a federal judge had the day before, Tuesday, struck down Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage. I'm sure I'll have more next week.

Sources cited in links:

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