Federal judges in Arkansas and Mississippi on Tuesday overturned a ban on gay marriages and are currently waiting for the states to consider appeals. Constitutional amendments in both states had defined a marriage as one between a man and a woman.
In Arkansas, two same-sex couples had challenged the amendment and had argued that the state's ban on gay marriage violated the U.S. Constitution and discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation. U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker on Tuesday ruled in favor of the couples in Arkansas. A federal judge in Mississippi, which has a 1997 law banning same-sex marriage, also ruled to overturn this law, according to The Associated Press (AP).
“The Fourteenth Amendment operates to remove the blinders of inequality from our eyes. Though we cherish our traditional values, they must give way to constitutional wisdom. Mississippi's traditional beliefs about gay and lesbian citizens led it to defy that wisdom by taking away fundamental rights owed to every citizen,” U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves said, according to AP.
A spokesperson for the Arkansas Democratic Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said that he is examining the ruling and would decide whether to appeal after the Thanksgiving holidays, after consulting with Republican Attorney General-elect Leslie Rutledge in Arkansas. Officials in Mississippi have already decided to appeal any ruling that overturns the law, AP reported.
McDaniel’s lawyers had also argued in the federal court that same-sex marriage was not a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution. While McDaniel stated that he personally supports gay marriage, he would defend the ban in court, according to AP.
Referring to Baker’s ruling, Jack Wagoner, a lawyer for the Arkansas couples, said, according to AP: "She's on the right side of history," adding: "It's pretty clear where history's heading on this issue."