Arkansas's Same Sex Marriage Ban Awaits Its Ruling

Apr 17, 2014

Plaintiffs Kendall Wright and Julia Wright
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A decision on whether or not Arkansas’s 2004 ban on same-sex marriage will be re-affirmed or lifted is still being weighed after litigators presented nearly three hours of arguments Thursday. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza said he will have a written judgment within two weeks.

Speaking afterward, Jack Wagnor, an attorney for the plaintiffs, framed the court’s future decision in the context of similar litigation nationally.

“This really won’t do anything on a national level beyond add to the ever increasing load of cases that have gone our way. You saw me go over 18 different decisions. I think 14 federal courts and three state courts. All the decisions that come out since the Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor (Defense of Marriage Act) last June, every single one of them has ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in those cases,” said Wagnor.

The state, represented by Assistant Attorney General Colin Jorgensen, argued the will of voters expressed in a 2004 amendment to the state’s constitution lends legitimacy to the ban. He argued the state can establish restrictions on marriage and that recent federal decisions are not in conflict with the ban.

After proceedings, plaintiff Kendall Wright, a lesbian who married out of state, while choking up said the state’s arguments were offensive to her.

“When he [Jorgensen] belittled my family as in he belittled the relationship of my wife and my children, because she’s not biologically related to them that she’s not their parent, I call B.S. on that. She’s much better of a mother than I am to my kids,” said Wright.

All parties involved conceded a stay is likely if the ban is overturned, with the case likely to head to the state supreme court.