Eleven Same-Sex Couples File Suit For Marriage Equality In Arkansas

A group of 11 LGBT couples in Arkansas have filed suit against the state claiming Arkansas Amendment 83, which prevents gay marriage from being recognized in the state, is unconstitutional following the SCOTUS decision on DOMA.

The lawsuit also claims that the plaintiffs’ fundamental rights have been violated by the ban, citing several benefits awarded to heterosexual couples that are not extended to their same-sex counterparts. According to reports, four of the couples suing have been married in Iowa, and several others were denied marriage licenses in Arkansas last week.

Terri Beiner, a professor at University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law, is quick to point out that the situation is more complex than it may seem—in 2004, Amendment 83 passed with 75% of the popular vote.

“Amendment 83 amended the Arkansas constitution,” said Beiner, “so you’d be arguing that it’s unconstitutional under the Arkansas constitution even though it amended the Arkansas constitution, so that’s a tougher argument to make. However, there is some leeway, I think, within the federal constitutional arguments to make the argument that same-sex couples should be permitted to get married under state law.”

In the meantime, Arkansans for Equality have asked the Arkansas attorney general’s office to approve language for a proposed ballot measure to repeal Amendment 83 in next year’s election. If approved, the group must gather at least 78,133 signatures from registered voters before appearing on the ballot.

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  • Dakotahgeo

    The demise of DOMA will scrap all present Constitutional amendments to state constitutions since legal precedent has now been set. They may not like it in Arkansas, but they can vote against marriage equality to their hearts’ content, but it ain’t gonna fly, not even with a rubber band propeller.

  • Dani3l

    Thing is, the bit of DOMA that was struck down in United States v. Windsor was only that part which prevents the Federal Government from recognizing same-sex marriages in states where these are legally valid. In Arkanas, they aren’t.

    So this case is breaking new ground, and the only precedent from SCOTUS it has to stand on is the 1967 ruling that struck down interracial marriage bans, Loving v. Virginia.

    These could actually be pursued more usefully as two separate cases. Those couples already legally married in Iowa but resident in Arkansas should file suit for Federal recognition of their valid marriage. Those denied a license under current state law in Arkansas are in a different boat entirely, and should pursue a separate case.

    I only hope that these eleven couples are well and honestly respesented, and not just being taken for a ride by lawyers eager for customers who are pretending that the DOMA ruling guarantees victory, because it doesn’t. Good luck!

  • DarkZephyr

    @Dani3l: It seems to me that their point is that if its unconstitutional for the Federal Government to refuse to recognize same sex marriages, it follows that it is unconstitutional for Arkansas and other states to not allow them or recognize them from other states. What is unconstitutional for the Federal Government should therefore be unconstitutional for state governments. I believe that this is their logic.

  • Cam

    This is why the Supreme Court didn’t do themselves or the GOP any favors by not completely getting rid of DOMA.

    Basically they kept the issue alive so it will be an issue in the next election. With all of these state cases, the GOP candidates will be asked questions about it, will have to either publicly admit to being a bigot, or risk pissing off the Tea Party base.

  • jwrappaport

    @Dakotahgeo: I wish it were so, but it ain’t. The penultimate line of the majority opinion specifically applied the ruling to the federal government and not to those of the states. Moreover, there is no way the present Court would have declared a right to marriage everywhere.

    @DarkZephyr: Yep. Agreed.

  • Dakotahgeo

    @jwrappaport: Well, we can hope. I sure hope we don’t have to revisit this garbage 37 more times. But then… government.

Comments are closed.