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.Text of the ruling here.
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.
The latest in a landmark string of court victories for the freedom to marry came today, November 25, from Mississippi, where a federal judge has ruled the state's constitutional amendment denying the freedom to marry to same-sex couples unconstitutional. The ruling is stayed for 14 days pending appeal.Text of the ruling here.
U.S. District Court Judge Carlton W. Reeves ruled today in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant, a federal legal case challenging Missisippi's anti-marriage amendment. The judge struck down the marriage ban, the 56th court ruling since June 2013 in favor of the freedom to marry. Just four courts - most notably, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit - 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. The plaintiffs in a case out of Louisiana, where a federal judge upheld marriage discirmination in September, are also seeking Supreme Court review.
The case in Mississippi was brought on behalf of two same-sex couples and the Campaign for Southern Equality by private counsel, including Roberta Kaplan of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and Mississippi attorney Robert McDuff of McDuff & Byrd, based in Jackson. In 2013, Kaplan led Windsor v. United States, the case that brought down the core of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act at the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2013.