Rulings Offer Hope For Same-Sex Couples

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 12:00 am  

Wagoner said to win his cases he will have to prove that there’s not a rational basis for Arkansas’ laws preventing same-sex couples from marrying and not recognizing same-sex marriages in other states.

A court date hasn’t been set in the federal case. But in the state court case a hearing on a motion for summary judgment is set for April 17 in front of Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza.

Klarman, the Harvard professor, said he thinks plaintiffs stand a better chance winning in federal court, where the judges are appointed for life.

“I would think state judges are going to be a little more reluctant to go out on a limb, because they tend to be elected and tend to be a little more subject to political pressure,” he said.

Wagoner said he plans to file a motion in federal court within the next 45 days to ask for a preliminary injunction that would require the state of Arkansas to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states while the lawsuit is pending.

The Arkansas Attorney General’s Office is representing the state officials who have been named as defendants in both state and federal court. A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office declined to comment on the cases.

Still, there’s little doubt that the issue of same-sex marriages will end up before the Supreme Court. “The question is when,” Klarman said.

He said cases will be ready for an appeal to the Supreme Court by the time its next term begins in October.

“I think things are changing more quickly than people might have predicted,” Klarman said.

When Windsor was decided in June, only nine states allowed same-sex marriage. The number is now 17.

“It’s going to grow within the next year or so to another three or four,” Klarman said. “And that’s going to be the pattern every year.”



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