Speed Reads

Gay marriage

Federal judge strikes down Arkansas gay marriage ban

Shortly after a fellow federal judge struck down neighboring Mississippi's ban on same-sex marriage, Judge Kristine Baker in Little Rock ruled that Arkansas' ban is also unconstitutional.

The law and subsequent voter-approved constitutional amendment "impose unconstitutional classifications on the basis of gender in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution," Baker wrote. "The fact that Amendment 83 was adopted by referendum does not immunize it from federal constitutional scrutiny." Like U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves in Mississippi, Baker suspended her ruling pending an expected appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

The Arkansas Supreme Court is also reviewing the state's gay marriage ban. A state judge ruled it unconstitutional in May, and 541 same-sex couples got married before the state Supreme Court put that ruling on hold. Not counting Mississippi or Arkansas, same-sex marriage is now allowed in 35 U.S. states, after the U.S. Supreme Court last week denied a request to block a federal judge's ruling voiding the Palmetto State's gay marriage ban.