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