Judge refuses to dismiss lawsuit challenging Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage, but won't enjoin ban | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Judge refuses to dismiss lawsuit challenging Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage, but won't enjoin ban

Posted By on Thu, Dec 19, 2013 at 7:08 PM

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At this moment, the order above filed today by Pulaski Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is all I know about action in the lawsuit filed by many same-sex couples seeking to strike down the state's ban on same-sex marriage. That's the entirety of his order.

The most important part is the judge's denial of the motions by the state and other county defendants to dismiss the suit .

He also denied the plaintiffs' motion to enjoin enforcement of the constitutional and statutory bans on same-sex marriage, which would have been a huge victory and instantly opened the door to marriage equality.

I believe this means the case will go to trial. On balance, that's a victory for marriage equality, if not the sweeping instant victory for which many might have hoped.

I have some calls in for further elaboration.

Here's our report on the hearing that led to today's order.

UPDATE: Jack Wagoner, one of the lawyers on the case, tells me that he's been out of pocket and hasn't had time to look at the ruling. He said he was unsure when a trial could be set in the case, but that he and co-counsel Cheryl Maples would try to move quickly. He said he doubted there would be any intermediate appellate opportunities on today's decision.

Wagoner added that judges often deny pretrial motions, but that doesn't mean decisions now aren't subject to change later. He took heart from what he took to be positive comments from the judge — "things change," Piazza said in response to some of the defense arguments — at the pre-trial hearing.

The attorney general's office, representing the state, said through a spokesman that they were glad the judge had made a quick ruling on the preliminary motions and expected further substantial orders as the litigation progressed.

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