You’re one step closer to being allowed to wed in Arkansas, but don’t pick out your wedding rings just yet. Tuesday’s federal victory is on hold so the dreadful Governor Mike Beebe has time to appeal.
He may not have to, though: the Arkansas Supreme Court could be ruling in a separate gay marriage case any day now. If that happens, it’s anyones guess when marriage would start. The Supreme Court could overturn the state’s bans, but stay their decision pending appeal in the federal case. Or they could let marriage start right away, mooting the federal case. Or they could just throw up their hands and decide not to do anything. There’s no telling what will happen. Place your bets now!
This ruling is a looooooong one at 45 pages, about half of which is dense discussion of various abstentions and doctrines. But there are some juicy bits as well, so we’ve pulled out our favorite parts for you here, starting with this:
…although states maintain the power to regulate domestic relationships, they
must do so “subject to,” and within the confines of, “the constitutional rights of persons.”
That’s a quote from the 2013 Windsor case, which overturned DOMA. And so’s this one:
The Supreme Court reinforced that restricting the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples “violates basic due process and equal protection principles.”
It does our heart good to see federal judges quoting Windsor. That case seriously changed everything.
The federal court in Arkansas also made it clear that marriage is a fundamental right for everyone:
As to the right to marry, the Supreme Court has been clear: “the ‘liberty’ specially
protected by the Due Process Clause includes the right to marry . . . .” … Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.”
OK, that’s pretty clear. The state had claimed that marriage is only a fundamental right for straight people, but the court recognized that argument for what it is: dumb.
The Supreme Court’s previous decisions heralding the “right to marry” as
fundamental do not describe that right with any more specificity.
This is a legal way of saying that you can’t narrow the definition of marriage after it’s already been called “fundamental to our very existence and survival.”
…the “right to marry” does not inherently hinge on a couple’s ability to produce
This is another big deal, since it completely demolishes the homophobic claim that you have to be able to make a baby if you want to get married.
Here’s another great quote, this time from Lawrence, which overturned sodomy bans:
These cases underscore that the drafters of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments “knew times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.”
Scalia’s going to love that.
The case really comes down to the marriage bans having no connection to their purported reasons to exist.
As demonstrated, a most searching examination of Separate Defendants’ proposed
reasons for Arkansas’s marriage laws reveals that these laws are not narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling state interest.
All in all, a pretty delightful victory.