LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A circuit judge in Arkansas has declared the state’s marriage amendment as being unconstitutional.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Christopher Charles Piazza issued his ruling on Friday, opining that there is “no rational reason” to bar homosexuals in the state from tying the knot. He asserted that Arkansas’ marriage amendment is rather “an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality.”
“Same-sex couples are a morally disliked minority and the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages is driven by animus rather than a rational basis,” Piazza wrote. “This violates the United States Constitution.”
Piazza was referring to Arkansas Constitutional Amendment 3, which was passed in 2004 with 75 percent approval from voters.
“Marriage consists only of the union of one man and one woman,” the amendment reads in part.
In issuing his ruling, Piazza pointed back to a 1967 Supreme Court ruling that overturned bans on interracial marriage.
“It has been over 40 years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice,” he wrote. “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.”
As Piazza did not issue a stay pending appeal, a number of homosexuals lined up at city hall locations throughout the state to obtain “marriage” licenses.
But Aaron Sadler, spokesperson for Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, vowed to appeal the ruling, stating that failing to issue a stay could cause chaos should the decision be overturned.
“We respect the court’s decision, but in keeping with the attorney general’s obligation to defend the state constitution, we will appeal,” he said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “We will request that Judge Piazza issue a stay of his ruling so as not to create confusion or uncertainty about the law while the Supreme Court considers the matter.”
Jerry Cox of the Arkansas Family Council likewise lamented the decision, issuing a statement about the matter.
“Something is terribly wrong when a judge can overturn a good law that was passed in a statewide election by 75% of the people,” he said. “This is another example of a judge substituting his personal preference for the will of the people.”
“Those who believe this is about equality should ask themselves how much marriage equality they believe in,” Cox continued. “Once people start redefining marriage, where does that redefinition stop? What about those who believe in polygamy and other definitions of marriage? There is nothing to keep them from asking that their definition of marriage be accepted.”
Arkansas is the latest of a number of states—including those in the Bible Belt—that have lost challenges to their marriage amendments, such as in Texas, Virginia and Oklahoma.