A judge on Friday struck down Arkansas'
ban on gay marriage, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris
Piazza said the state has “no rational reason” for prohibiting
gay couples from marrying.
Unlike some judges in other states,
Piazza did not stay his ruling, meaning gay couples might be able to
marry as early as Saturday. According to the AP, several clerks'
offices will be open Saturday.
“This is an unconstitutional attempt
to narrow the definition of equality,” Piazza wrote in his 13-page
ruling. “The exclusion of a minority for no rational reason is
a dangerous precedent.”
Piazza added that the ban “is driven
by animus rather than a rational basis. This violates the United
A spokesman for Attorney General Dustin
McDaniel's office said the ruling would be appealed. Last week,
McDaniel, a Democrat, announced his personal support for allowing gay
couples to marry but added that he will continue to defend the ban in
Piazza knocked down state arguments
that the ban was needed to protect children.
“Even if it were rational for the
state to speculate that children raised by opposite-sex couples are
better off than children raised by same-sex couples, there is no
rational relationship between the Arkansas same-sex marriage bans and
this goal because Arkansas's marriage laws do not prevent same-sex
couples from having children. The only effect the bans have on
children is harming those children of same-sex couples who are denied
the protection and stability of parents who are legally married.”
He concluded by citing the U.S. Supreme
Court's decision knocking down interracial marriage bans.
“It has been over 40 years since
Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her
choice,” Piazza wrote. “The hatred and fears have long since
vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together; so it
will be for the same 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.”