The Steps To Equality: Same-Sex Marriage Ban Lifted In Arkansas

Every little girl imagines her wedding day. Maybe she sees herself in a long white dress made by Pnina Tornai; maybe she just sees a few of her closest friends and family against the backdrop of a sunset on the beach. Whatever that little girl sees, it’s something she thinks of, that one day when she gets to be a fairy tale princess.

That is, unless she loves a woman.

Same-sex marriage is a hot button topic in the news and has been for decades. Whether a person is for or against it tends to shape friendship, politics and lives around the globe. To some people, it’s about a belief that the sanctity of marriage is marred by the same-sex aspect. For others, it’s about standing on the right side of history. Whatever people believe, there’s no doubt that the world is changing in reference to same-sex couples and their rights to marriage.

Massachusetts was the first state to make same-sex marriage legal, in 2004. Since that, 16 states have followed in their footsteps. Over 70 lawsuits have been files in 29 states challenging marriage bans, with only Alaska, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota remaining unaffected by the suits, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

The same year that Massachusetts made same-sex marriage legal, Arkansas voters approved an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage and ruling that any marriage could only be between a man and a woman. Last year, the US Supreme Court made it clear that a law that forbade the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. On the heels of that decision, several lower court judges lifted bans and began to allow same-sex marriage.

On Friday, May 9th, an Arkansas judge ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage violated the equal-protection clause of the US Constitution. Early Saturday morning, the first marriage license was issued to Kristin Seaton and Jennifer Rambo.

The couple arrived at the courthouse at 2am and slept in their Ford Focus to ensure that they would be the first ones in line. The couple has been together for four years and was anxious to make it a legal marriage.

“Although marriage is not expressly identified as a fundamental right in the Constitution, the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized it as such.” Pulaski County Circuit Judge, Chris Piazza went on to write, “This is an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality. The exclusion of a minority for no rational reason is a dangerous precedent.”

The ruling of Piazza in Wright vs. Arkansas was heavily based on Loving vs. Virginia, a landmark 1967 case in which the US Supreme Court overturned a state ban on interracial marriage.

Piazza wrote, in the 13 page ruling, “It has been over forty years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice. The hatred and fears have long since vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together; so it will be for the same-sex couples. It is time to let that beacon of freedom shine brighter on all our brothers and sisters. We will be stronger for it.”

Times are changing in respects to same-sex marriage in our world. The goal of equality has not yet been reached, but there have been significant steps in that direction. Arkansas is simply the latest step in that journey.

“All across my home state, throughout the South, and around the country, LGBT people and their families are seeking basic respect and dignity,” said the president of the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin. “This victory is an essential step on the journey toward full equality for all.”