Arkansas judge strikes down state ban on marriage for same-sex couples

Today Judge Chris Piazza of Arkansas upheld same-sex couples' freedom to marry, striking down the state’s discriminatory constitutional amendment and becoming the latest in a unanimous wave of 15 favorable rulings from state and federal judges across the country since the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Windsor v. United States.

The judge did not issue a stay in the ruling - meaning that as soon as Monday, same-sex couples could marry in the state. The state of Arkansas has, however, sought a stay in the ruling. The state has said it will appeal a ruling in favor of the freedom to marry. If appealed, as expected, the next step would likely be the Arkansas Supreme Court.

In one particularly moving piece, Judge Piazza writes:

Our freedoms are often acquired slowly, but our country has evolved as a beacon of liberty in what is sometimes a dark world.

It has been over forty 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.

Read the full ruling here.

Max Brantley reports, "The order came after county clerks ofices closed for the week. But they can expect a flood of applicants Monday morning. Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane said he'd be ready with software to issue gender-netural marriage licenses Monday morning."

The ruling came in Wright v. Arkansas, a lawsuit filed in state court that makes claims under the U.S. Constitution. It was brought by a private attorney, Cheryl Maples, on behalf of more than 20 same-sex couples, plus a woman seeking respect for her marriage to another woman so she can divorce and several children of same-sex couples. Congratulations to all of the great plaintiffs, and to Cheryl Maples and her legal team.

Read the stories of many same-sex couples from Arkansas - including several plaintiff couples - impacted by the ruling here:

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, released the following statement applauding the ruling:

"Today a state circuit judge in Arkansas ruled in favor of the freedom to marry, the latest in a unanimous wave of more than a dozen state and federal judges across the country in recent months. Judge Piazza held that there is no good reason for discriminating against couples and their loved ones just because they are gay. With more than 70 marriage cases now making their way through the courts and five federal appellate courts now hearing arguments and soon to rule, today's decision out of Arkansas underscores that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry."

Read more about marriage litigation.