On Tuesday, Arkansas lawmakers approved legislation similar to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Reform Act. What’s the big difference between Arkansas’s would-be new law and Indiana’s, you may ask? While you really are safe from discrimination if you happen to be in one of the four cities or two counties in Indiana that consider LGBT people a protected class, you aren’t safe anywhere in Arkansas! Last month Governor Hutchinson allowed legislation to become law that prohibited any local anti-discrimination ordinances protecting LGBT individuals. The Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, retail giant Walmart, and democrats who have been paying remote attention to America’s reaction to Indiana’s law have all voiced concern about the bill. I guess I’m not the only one who doesn’t think anyone takes trips to Arkansas, because Hutchinson has said that he will sign the bill.
Breaking news: Just kidding! Governor Hutchinson has announced that he would like the Arkansas legislature to recall the bill, and that he will not sign it in its current form
After moving the deadline for lawyers for the plaintiffs to respond to the Attorney General’s motion to stay Judge Chris Piazza’s ruling up to today at 2pm, the Arkansas Supreme Court has decided to stay the ruling pending appeal.
Over 540 couples have obtained marriage licenses in Arkansas over the past week. The Human Rights Campaign has asked that the Justice Department extend federal recognition to the married couples.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza revised his ruling today, declaring that a law that prohibited county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples was just as unconstitutional as laws that prohibited gay marriage. Pulaski County issued eleven licenses between the ruling and the close of business, while Washington County will resume giving licenses out tomorrow. Four other counties are waiting to hear from their lawyers or the state Supreme Court before issuing licenses again.
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has asked the state Supreme Court for an emergency order to stop all this homomarryin’ despite his personal belief that same-sex couples deserve the right to get married. Lawyers for gay couples have until noon to respond.
The state Health Department said it would no longer change birth certificates if both parents in same-sex couple want to be listed as parents while Piazza’s rule is being reviewed.
Legislators in Arkansas seem to have moved on from trying to impeach Piazza to discussing a non-binding resolution asking the state Supreme Court to keep the ban on gay marriage in place.
Last week, Arkansas Judge Chris Piazza found the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage violated the U.S. Constitution. Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who has said that he personally supports marriage equality, but still defends the ban against it, subsequently began filing as many appeals and motions to stay the ruling pending appeal as he could possibly lay his hands on. Meanwhile, five Arkansas counties began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, while the rest decided to wait until the Supreme Court weighed in. I’m assuming the Mississippi River didn’t turn into blood or anything because both Piazza and the Arkansas Supreme Court denied the motions to stay, and the Supreme Court denied the appeal because it was filed before Piazza issued his final order. My supervisor is standing over me with a spiked club at the moment, so I won’t be making any jokes about being premature at this point. I apologize.
Surely it’s wedded bliss for these couples during the forthcoming appeal process, yes? They don’t have to carry around those documents proving they’re their husband’s husband in case of an emergency any more, right? Well, maybe. I think? When the Arkansas Supreme Court denied the motion to stay, they also pointed out that Piazza’s ruling didn’t mention a state law prohibiting county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Attorneys for the plaintiff couples will likely ask Piazza to address this issue in his final order.
Since the Supreme Court pointed out the remaining law, county clerks have stopped issuing licenses. 456 couples have received licenses and can still get married. Everyone else has to wait at least until Piazza issues his final order and McDaniel files an appeal when he’s supposed to.
I just saved you from going through a million links that read “Gay Marriage in Arkansas!’ “No Gay Marriage in Arkansas!” “Arkansas Supreme Court Denies Appeal in Gay Marriage Case!” “You Can Get Married!” “No, You Can’t!” You’re welcome.
Arkansas Gay Marriage Ban Found Unconstitutional in Court
On Friday, Judge Chris Piazza struck down Arkansas’s voter approved ban on same-sex marriage, telling everybody what they already knew, that “The exclusion of a minority for no rational reason is a dangerous precedent.”
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has announced his intent to appeal Piazza’s ruling, but has not yet filed an appeal in the case. Fifteen same-sex couples had been issued marriage licenses when McDaniel made his announcement. One of my favorite conservatives Mike Huckabee was so enraged by the ruling that he decided to ignore that whole checks and balances thing the rest of us learned about in elementary school and call for Piazza to be impeached.
Alaska Moves from 49th to 47th!
On Monday, Alaska became the 47th state… to get a lawsuit challenging its same-sex marriage ban! Five couples have sued the state, seeking to bar enforcement of Alaska’s constitutional ban on gay marriage and any state laws prohibiting the recognition of marriage performed in other states or countries or that prevent unmarried same-sex couples from getting married. This means that the only states that have unchallenged bans to marriage equality are Montana and the Dakotas.
Final Briefs Filed in Pennsylvania Case
The state of Pennsylvania filed the last of its briefs in one of the cases challenging its ban on same-sex marriage on May 12. Pennsylvania’s Attorney General declined to defend the ban, saying she could not ethically defend its constitutionality, so the state hired an outside law firm that argued that “plaintiffs rely primarily on speculation and conjecture with regard to harm that may occur in the future.” Maybe someone should ask one of the plaintiffs, which consist of ten couples, two teenage children of same-sex parents, and a widow, if any harm came to them because of this law already? I mean, who wants the pension your husband worked for most of his life anyway? You have fond memories! Both sides of this case have agreed that there is no need for a trial, and the judge can rule at any time now, or he can decide he wants to go ahead with a trial that is scheduled for June 9.
HRC is launching an $8.5 million campaign called Project One America in Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi, three states where there are currently no legal protections for LGBT citizens of any kind. Find out what they’re doing in your state and what you can do to help, including sharing your story here.
Arkansas bans same-sex marriage by both constitutional amendment and state law