Hearing Begins In Challenge to Ark. Same-Sex Marriage Ban
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Lawyers for the state and the Faulkner County clerk asked a judge Thursday to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to allow gay marriages in Arkansas.
A number of same-sex couples sued in July, two weeks after the U.S Supreme Court issued two rulings supporting gay-marriage laws. They claim a 2004 constitutional amendment approved by Arkansas voters, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, should be thrown out.
Some of the couples want Arkansas to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Others want the opportunity to marry. They say the federal court decision supports them.
But Assistant Attorney General Colin Jorgenson said the voters’ will - Amendment 83 passed by a 3-1 margin - could not be thrown out because the state’s residents had a right to determine their own constitution.
"Domestic relations laws are the province of the states," he said, adding the U.S. Supreme Court rulings "did not say states must recognize same-sex marriage."
At the end of a three-hour hearing, the judge did not indicate when he might rule - or how, telling lawyers that he typically knows which way he is leaning while considering a request to throw out a case.
"I’m floating on a creek right now," Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza said.