Judge strikes down Arkansas gay marriage ban

By Kyle Johnson,

A state judge on Friday struck down an Arkansas state amendment banning same-sex marriage saying it was unconstitutional.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled that the ban violated the U.S. Constitution's provision guaranteeing equal protection rights. According to Reuters, Piazza said in his decision, "Arkansas's marriage laws discriminate against same-sex couples in violation of the Equal Protection Clause because they do not advance any conceivable legitimate state interest."

Same-sex couples could begin to apply for marriage licenses when county clerks offices reopen since the state judge decided not to stay his decision.

The amendment, which was passed back in 2004, prohibits the state from recognizing legal out-of-state gay marriages as well as limiting the definition of marriage to between a man and woman.

The plaintiff in the case, John Rankine, said, "I'm thrilled. It's long overdue and I'm just real proud of Arkansas. And I hope there's no backlash on it."

The attorney general's office said they would be appealing and also will try to convince the judge to stay the ruling, reports The Associated Press.

The ruling comes over a week after the state attorney general, Dustin McDaniel, spoke with reporters and announced he supported gay marriage, but as Arkansas' highest counsel, he would defend the state in any appeal.

The ruling follows along with ones made in Michigan, Utah, Virginia and several other states. There are 70 lawsuits seeking gay marriage in about 30 different states and those all could very well go the same way as, to this point, no judge has ruled against marriage equality.

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