A federal judge in Arizona has struck down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage, guided by the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to hear appeals of similar rulings in other states in the same judicial circuit.
Same-sex couples now may legally marry in about 30 states. With additions announced today, the federal government now officially recognizes the legality of same-sex marriages in 26 states. That means couples in those states — but not the other 24, including Arkansas — can enjoy full federal marriage benefits. In a video message, Attorney General Eric Holder said:
I have directed lawyers here at the Justice Department to work with out colleagues at agencies across the administration to ensure that all applicable federal benefits are extended to those couples as soon as possible,’’
And what of Arkansas? Circuit Judge Chris Piazza has held Arkansas’s ban unconstitutional, but that ruling is on appeal. Jack Wagoner, one of the attorneys pressing the case for equality, told me that plaintiffs expected to file a motion today for an expedited appeal before the Arkansas Supreme Court. Earlier this week, parties were notified the court would hear oral arguments in the case.
Deprivation of constitutional rights, even for a minimal period of time, constitutes irreparable harm, the motion said. It causes the plaintiffs “anxiety and stress, deprives them of dignity as individuals and as couples, subjects them to ongoing economic harms and causes particularly devastating harm to the innocent children of appellees,” the motion said.
Wagoner is also one of the lawyers on a separate but similar case pending in federal district court in Little Rock. He said federal Judge Kristine Baker had cleared the way for him to talk with other parties about setting a date for a hearing on motions in the case. Plaintiffs want a summary judgment that the law is unconstitutional. Opponents have asked variously for a delay or dismissal of the lawsuit.
ALSO TODAY: The U.S. Supreme Court refused to stay a ruling invalidating Alaska’s same-sex marriage ban.
UPDATE: A the ball has started moving in federal court, with this order today from Judge Kristine Baker. Like the Arkansas Supreme Court, she has turned down the state’s request for a stay in the lawsuit pending a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in appeals of circuit court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to take up those cases. Hence today’s order:
Before the Court is separate defendants’ motion to stay (Dkt. No. 30). Separate defendants Dustin McDaniel, Richard Weiss, and George Hopkins, in their official capacities and on behalf of their respective successors in interest, move this Court to stay the proceedings in this case pending the United States Supreme Court’s resolution of the petition for writ of certiorari filed in Herbert v. Kitchen (No. 14-124). On Monday, October 6, 2014, the United States Supreme Court denied the petition for writ of certiorari in Herbert v. Kitchen. Accordingly, this Court denies as moot separate defendants’ motion to stay
UPDATE: Add Wyoming to the equality roster. Another judge has ruled.