Arguing that there was “no rational reason” for denying same-sex couples the right to marry, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza overthrew Arkansas’ ban on same-sex marriage Friday. The judge did not mince words in striking down the state ban. He struck down the voter approved amendment banning gay marriages with strong words:
This is an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality. The exclusion of a minority for no rational reason is a dangerous precedent.
He went on to draw parallels between the current ban on same-sex marriages and the historical ban on inter-racial marriages, stating:
It has been over 40 years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice. The hatred and fears have long since vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together; so it will be for the 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.
Furthermore, the judge did not stay the ruling, so couples will be eligible to obtain marriage licenses in many counties as soon as Monday morning.
The judge’s ruling overturns Amendment 83 to the state’s constitution which voters passed in 2004 by a three to one margin. Ten years later, a majority of Arkansas voters still oppose marriage equality, although voters under 30 years of age, favor marriage equality by a substantial 53-32 margin.
The judge’s ruling makes Arkansas the lone state that Mitt Romney carried in 2012, where gay marriage is currently legal. Gay marriage bans were also ruled unconstitutional in Oklahoma and Utah, but those rulings were stayed pending state appeals so same-sex marriages are not currently being performed in either state. Today, Arkansas, of all places, finds itself on the right side of history thanks to Judge Piazza’s landmark ruling.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.