Federal judge strikes down Arkansas marriage ban, adding to national momentum
November 25, 2014
Today, November 25, U.S. District Court Judge Karen Baker ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in Arkansas, declaring the state's Amendment 83, which limits the freedom to marry to different-sex couples, is unconstitutional. The ruling is staying pending a presumptive appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit.
The ruling is the second landmark decision in favor of marriage in Arkansas in less than 6 months, following a May 2014 ruling in state court, which is now currently being considered by the Arkansas Supreme Court. In May, following the state ruling, more than 500 same-sex couples from across the state received marriage licenses over the course of the week before the ruling was put on hold pending the appeal to the AR Supreme Court.
The case today was in Jernigan v. Crane, filed in July 2013 by Little Rock-based attorney Jack Wagoner of Wagoner Law Firm. The case before the Arkansas Supreme Court is Wright v. Smith.
Freedom to Marry congratulates the plaintiffs and the legal team behind today's big win, which fuels a year-long string of victories in federal, state, and federal appellate court. Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson said today:
Today’s ruling out of the deep south affirms what nearly every court in the past year has held: loving and committed same-sex couples are guaranteed the freedom to marry by the U.S. Constitution. Now is the time for the Supreme Court to take up a case and end marriage discrimination once and for all.
In total, 55 decisions have been issued in favor of the freedom to marry in state and federal court since June 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the core of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in Windsor v. United States. Thirty-five rulings have been issued in federal court, fifteen have been issued in state court, and five have been issued by a federal appellate court. Just four courts - most notably, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit - have upheld marriage discrimination. Plaintiffs from the 6th Circuit cases, out of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, are now seeking review from that out-of-step ruling from the United States Supreme Court, as are plaintiffs in a federal case from Louisiana, where a judge also upheld discrimination. See all of the marriage rulings here. And read about marriage at the U.S. Supreme Court here.