Circuit judge strikes down Arkansas' same-sex marriage ban

Posted: May 9, 2014 at 5:08 p.m.

Circuit Judge Chris Piazza presides at a hearing in the Pulaski County Court House in Little Rock, Ark., Thursday, April 17, 2014. Advocates of ending Arkansas' ban on same-sex marriage took their case before Piazza who said at the conclusion of the hearing that he would issue a ruling in about two weeks. Piazza on Friday, May 9, ruled the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

A Pulaski County judge has struck down Arkansas' prohibitions on same-sex marriage.

In a ruling issued Friday, Circuit Judge Chris Piazza said: "Arkansas's marriage laws discriminate against same-sex couples in violation of the Equal Protection Clause ...."

"Although marriage is not expressly identified as a fundamental right in the Constitution, the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized it as such," his ruling states.

"... Therefore, the court hereby finds the Arkansas constitutional and legislative ban on same-sex marriage through Act 144 of 1997 and Amendment 83 is unconstitutional."

The decision came after a hearing last month in which the two sides presented final arguments in the suit, which was filed after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling lifted bans on federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

The state's gay marriage ban is based on both an amendment to the state constitution passed by popular vote in 2004 and statutory law dating back 17 years, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported in its coverage of that hearing.

Piazza noted at the April hearing that his decision would be appealed to the state Supreme Court regardless of which way he ruled, the newspaper reported. It added that Piazza said the issue likely won't be completely resolved until it reaches the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more on this story.

In his ruling striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, Arkansas Circuit Judge Chris Piazza references the Loving vs. Virginia case that end...