Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Suit filed in Pulaski County to strike down Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage

Posted By on Tue, Jul 2, 2013 at 3:33 PM

KENDALL AND JULIE WRIGHT: With child. Plaintiffs in civil rights case.
  • Facebook
  • KENDALL AND JULIE WRIGHT: With child. Plaintiffs in marriage rights case.
A lawsuit was filed today in Pulaski Circuit Court by 11 couples that challenges Arkansas's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The case fell in Judge Jay Moody's court.

Here's the lawsuit. It was filed against various state officials and several county clerks, who are prohibited by statute from issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

It was filed by attorney Cheryl Maples of Searcy on behalf of Kendall and Julia Wright, also on behalf of their children, and 10 other couples. It argues that the ban is a violation of the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution and the due process clause of the Arkansas Constitution. The plaintiffs include eight other lesbian and two gay couples. Three of the couples were married in other states. The others were denied marriage license applications in various Central Arkanas counties.

Bans on marriage haven't been challenged directly in Arkansas, but a challenge in federal court in Nebraska of that state's constitutional ban won at the district court level. That decision was overturned by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006. More recently, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, but in allowing to stand a ruling invalidating a California same-sex marriage ban, the Supreme Court ruled on procedural grounds. That set aside a 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that upheld a finding that the ban was unconstitutional.

The suit also seeks a declaration that Arkansas violates the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution by not extending rights — same-sex marriage and attendant benefits — that are granted in other states.

Lead plaintiffs Kendall and Julia Wright are a lesbian couple with a long-term relationship who married this year in Iowa. They said their children are deprived of legitimacy in Arkansas and they are deprived of other contractual benefits because of Arkansas law and Constitution.

The suit claims, as said the landmark Loving lawsuit that challenged interracial marriage bans, that marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man." It asks that Arkansas statute and constitutional bars be declared unconstitutional. In arguing that they face irreparable harm, the plaintiffs said:

Plaintiffs' continuing and increasing injuries include, but are not limited to, the deprivation of fundamental rights Constitutionally guaranteed, severe humiliation, stigma, emotional distress, psychological harm, financial loss, pain and suffering, all caused by their denial of the right to be married to the person of their choice and have their familial relationship accorded the same dignity and respect as that received by heterosexual families.

Participants in this suit report, as others have, receiving discouragement from the ACLU about filing the suit at this time. I'd been talking to another Little Rock lawyer who's been interested in bringing this action. He has been a cooperating ACLU attorney and similarly reported discouragement by the ACLU after I quoted him here. He's still studying the situation and has been talking to a number of potential plaintiffs. The ACLU and other civil liberties group like to control timing and strategy of such actions. My own thought is that when you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose. Lose this lawsuit and the losers are no worse off than where they started, but they might have raised still more awareness about and sympathy for the fundamental unfairness of their positions.

I'd bet this case winds up in federal court before it's over. And that significant assistance, legal and otherwise, will join the battle one way or the other.

Tags: , , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (27)

Showing 1-27 of 27

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-27 of 27

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • State Police issues statement on Jason Rapert 'threats'

    The State Police have issued a minor clarification in what appears to be an effort to soothe an enraged Sen. Jason Rapert, exposed here as overly excited about both a Conway parking lot question from a constituent as well as some inflammatory Internet rhetoric that he's interpreted as a dire threat on his life. State cops took his reports seriously, they say. But in the end, they found nothing actionable.
    • Sep 15, 2015
  • Transgender electrician may sue employer over her firing

    Federal Judge Susan Webber Wright has ruled that Patricia Dawson, a transgender woman, may pursue her lawsuit that she was wrongfully fired by her employer, H & H Electric, because of her sex.
    • Sep 16, 2015
  • 'How to decimate a city' — a big freeway

    Reporting from around the U.S. continues to illustrate the folly of the Arkansas highway department and construction boosters like the chamber of commerce and Vice Mayor Lance Hines in advocating ever wider freeways through the heart of Little Rock. Syracuse, N.Y., is looking for a better way in a debate remarkably similar to the debate about widening Interstate 30 in Little Rock.
    • Nov 20, 2015

Most Shared

  • Architecture lecture: Sheila Kennedy on "soft" design

    Sheila Kennedy, a professor of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founder of Kennedy & Violich Architecture Ltd., will give the June Freeman lecture tonight at the Arkansas Arts Center, part of the Architecture + Design Network series at the Arkansas Arts Center.
  • Petition calls for Jason Rapert Sewage Tanks in Conway

    A tribute is proposed for Conway's state senator Jason Rapert: naming the city's sewage sludge tanks for him. Petitioners see a similarity.
  • Health agency socked with big verdict, Sen. Hutchinson faulted for legal work

    A former mental health agency director has won a default judgment worth $358,000 over a claim for unpaid retirement pay and Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson is apparently to blame for failure to respond to pleadings in the case.
  • Religious right group calls for compromise on damage lawsuit amendment

    The Family Council, the religious right political lobby, has issued a statement urging its followers to oppose the so-called tort reform amendment to limit attorney fees and awards in damage lawsuits.
  • Constituents go Cotton pickin' at Springdale town hall

    Sen. Tom Cotton, cordial to a fault, appeared before a capacity crowd at the 2,200 seat Pat Walker Performing Arts Center at Springdale High tonight to a mixed chorus of clapping and boos. Other than polite applause when he introduced his mom and dad and a still moment as he led the crowd in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance — his night didn't get much better from there.

Visit Arkansas

Little River County gears up for Sesquicentennial

Little River County gears up for Sesquicentennial

Historical entertainment planned for joint celebration of three Southwest Arkansas milestone anniversaries

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation