On Friday, Arkansas became the first former state of the Confederacy to enable marriage equality.
Arkansas is a state so afraid of the gay agenda that it delegalized same-sex marriage twice: once in 1997 through the legislature and signed into law by then-Governor Mike Huckabee, and again in 2004 when voters approved a state constitutional amendment to prohibit recognizing same-sex marriage or anything resembling them such as same-sex civil unions.
Last Friday, Arkansas Sixth Circuit Judge Christopher Piazza made both of those actions no longer binding. His primary reasoning here follows that of other courts: that states that define marriage as opposite-sex only are violating Article IV, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, which ensures that individual states have to respect each others' public acts. This might mean that, legally, Judge Piazza's ruling only voids the 2004 state constitutional amendment, and that Arkansas's state ruling of 1997 is still in effect. That's how most counties in Arkansas are treating the matter: the majority of counties are still not allowing same-sex marriages. On Saturday and/or Monday five counties issued marriage certificates, but that number has dropped to three as of Tuesday.
The current Attorney General, Dustin McDaniel, has personally stated that he is in favour of marriage equality, but is appealing the ruling by filing with the Arkansas Supreme Court. This will, in time, lead to a stay on the decision, during which time marriage equality would not be allowed. That time, however, is not right now, although counties are doing what they can to make sure they don't have to issue marriage certificates to couples they don't approve of...
Where is US marriage equality at, as of this week
There are 17 states wherein marriage equality is legal and being carried out; in Illinois it is currently legal but will not be carried out until two weeks from now. The District of Columbia is also a zone wherein it is legal and able to be carried out. At the federal level, marriage equality is fully recognized: a same-sex couple married in 17 states (or DC) who moves to one of the other 33 (as of June, 32) states legally is still a married couple. Those 33 states are trying to figure out how to deal with this. In 5 of those states (Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Texas, and Michigan), legal challenges have already been decided against anti-same-sex marriage laws, but subsequent court decisions very quickly made it so that new marriages could not happen. All of those states are still trying to determine what to do next.
Edited to add!
As mentioned above, Mike Huckabee, former candidate for Republican Presidential nominee, signed legislature into effect 17 years ago limiting the rights of some of the citizens of Arkansas. He, understandably, is not happy that Judge Piazza declared that unconstitutional law unconstitutional.
Judge Chris Piazza, a circuit court judge in my home state of Arkansas, decided that he is singularly more powerful than the 135 elected legislators of the state, the elected Governor, and 75% of the voters of the state. Apparently he mistook his black robe for a cape and declared himself to be "SUPER LAWMAKER!"
As former Governor Huckabee may have forgotten, the purpose of the judicial system is to determine whether laws passed by the legislative branch are actually constitutional. Constitutions are actually more powerful than 135 elected legislators, elected Governors, and 75% of voters in a state. That's sort of how democratic republics such as the U.S. and its constituent states work.
Sorry, judge, but I learned in 9th grade civics and from a reading of the US and Arkansas state constitution that we have 3 branches of government. And that the 3 of them are equal. The judicial branch is not the superior branch and cannot erase the will of the other 2. Most importantly, the ultimate authority and power rests with the people, and they spoke in a 3-1 vote. The dangerous precedent of elected officials allowing one single member of the judicial branch to become Lord God of law is dangerous and unconstitutional. A judicial ruling can send a matter back to the legislature for remedy, but it cannot dictate nor implement the remedy. That requires legislation and the execution of the laws passed, which is the purview of the legislative and executive branches.
Um. No. As an example, when Loving v. Virginia was decided, then the 16 states that had anti-miscegenation laws still had those laws: it was still on the books that in particular states like, *cough*, Arkansas that whites and non-whites could not marry. However, those laws were no longer enforceable: the U.S. Supreme Court decision immediately made that so. Judge Piazza's decision did a similar thing, and arguing otherwise is failing to comprehend how the judicial system works.
If the people wish to allow same sex marriage, they can put that matter on the ballot and vote for it. Or the legislature can put that matter on the ballot and ask the people to change the Constitution to allow it.
Also no. Now that a judge in Arkansas has determined that previous efforts to delegalize same-sex marriage were invalid, the people of Arkansas, or the legislature of Arkansas, can attempt to delegalize it again. Or a higher court can decide that the lower court's ruling was not legitimate. If one of those can happen and if they can do so in a way that isn't contrary to the U.S. and Arkansas constitutions, then, congratulations Mr. Huckabee, you win.