University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Wright v. Arkansas PB-AR-0005
Docket / Court 60CV-13-2662 ( State Court )
State/Territory Arkansas
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Same-Sex Marriage
Case Summary
On July 1, 2013, a group of same-sex couples wishing to marry or to have their existing out-of-state marriages recognized, filed a lawsuit in the Arkansas Circuit Court of Pulaski County against the State of Arkansas. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the Court for declaratory ... read more >
On July 1, 2013, a group of same-sex couples wishing to marry or to have their existing out-of-state marriages recognized, filed a lawsuit in the Arkansas Circuit Court of Pulaski County against the State of Arkansas. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the Court for declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that Arkansas Constitutional Amendment 83 and various provisions of the Arkansas Code which exclude same-sex couples from marrying and forbid recognition of lawful same-sex marriages entered into in other states, violate the right to equal protection and due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Rights provision of the Arkansas Constitution.

The plaintiffs come from various walks of life and occupations. However, all have been in committed relationships for many years and several are raising children together. Plaintiffs argued that denial of marriage conveys the State's view that plaintiffs' private relationships and families are of lesser value that those of opposite-sex couples. The plaintiffs also claimed that the denial of marriage deprives them of the broad array of protections and benefits that opposite-sex couples receive when they are recognized as married under state law. For example, Arkansas's refusal to recognize plaintiffs' marriages unlawfully denied them the right to make medical decisions for an incapacitated spouse, file joint tax returns, and gain access to health insurance, retirement benefits, property protections, and inheritance.

On May 9, 2014, Judge Christopher Piazza granted the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and found the laws at issue to be unconstitutional. The Court found the provisions to be in violation of the equal protection guarantees included in both the U.S. and Arkansas constitutions. Immediately following the Court's order, the State appealed and requested a stay from the trial court pending appeal, which was denied. On May 16, 2014, the Arkansas Supreme Court ordered a stay of the lower court's decision. The case is ongoing and oral argument in the Supreme Court is scheduled for November 20, 2014.

Nate West - 11/20/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Family discrimination
Gender identity
Sex discrimination
Sexual orientatation
General
Disparate Treatment
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Marriage
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) State of Arkansas
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are same-sex couples who wish to marry or have their legal out-of-state marriages recognized.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Limited Partnership
http://www.limitedpartnershipmovie.com/
By: Thomas G. Miller
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  United States Government says L.A. Gay Couple’s 1975 Marriage is Valid
The Pride L.A.
Written: Jun. 07, 2016
By: Troy Masters
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
60CV-13-2662 (State Trial Court) 10/14/2014
PB-AR-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
State Court Website
General Documents
Complaint 07/02/2013
PB-AR-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: State Court Website
Third Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 09/30/2013
PB-AR-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: State Court Website
Order Granting Summary Judgment in Favor of the Plaintiffs 05/09/2014
PB-AR-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: State Court Website
Order Denying Defendants' Motion for Immediate Stay 05/15/2014
PB-AR-0005-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: State Court Website
Formal Order 05/16/2014
PB-AR-0005-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: State Court Website
Judges Piazza, Chris (State Trial Court)
PB-AR-0005-0003 | PB-AR-0005-0004 | PB-AR-0005-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Mann, Angela Griffith (Arkansas)
PB-AR-0005-9000
Maples, Cheryl (Arkansas)
PB-AR-0005-0001 | PB-AR-0005-0002 | PB-AR-0005-9000
Smith, Kathleen (Arkansas)
PB-AR-0005-9000
Wagoner, Jack III (Arkansas)
PB-AR-0005-0002 | PB-AR-0005-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Fuqua, David M. (Arkansas)
PB-AR-0005-9000
Hogue, David R. (Arkansas)
PB-AR-0005-9000
Jorgensen, Colin R. (Arkansas)
PB-AR-0005-9000
McDaniel, Dustin (Arkansas)
PB-AR-0005-9000
Owens, Jason E. (Arkansas)
PB-AR-0005-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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