Federal Judges In Mississippi And Arkansas Strike Down Same-Sex Marriage Bans

Gay Marriage Wedding Cake Two Women

Federal Judges in two of the most southern of southern states have struck down bans on same sex marriage in Mississippi and Arkansas:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas and Mississippi became the latest two states Tuesday to have their gay marriage bans overturned by federal judges, but there are no rushes to the altar as both orders are on hold so the states can consider appeals.

Like several states, Arkansas and Mississippi had voter-approved constitutional amendments pass in 2004 that defined marriage between one man and one woman.

In Arkansas, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker ruled in favor of two same-sex couples who had challenged the amendment. They argued the ban violated the U.S. Constitution and discriminated based on sexual orientation.

“The fact that Amendment 83 was adopted by referendum does not immunize it from federal constitutional scrutiny,” Baker wrote in her ruling.

Besides the amendment, Mississippi has a 1997 law that bans same-sex marriage.

But U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves wrote in his ruling, “The Fourteenth Amendment operates to remove the blinders of inequality from our eyes. Though we cherish our traditional values, they must give way to constitutional wisdom. Mississippi’s traditional beliefs about gay and lesbian citizens led it to defy that wisdom by taking away fundamental rights owed to every citizen. It is time to restore those rights.

“Today’s decision may cause uneasiness and concern about the change it will bring,” he wrote. “But “‘(t)hings change, people change, times change, and Mississippi changes, too.’ The man who said these words, Ross R. Barnett, Jr., knew firsthand their truth.”

Barnett Jr. is an attorney and son of segregationist Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett, who was in office from 1960 to 1964.

The ruling was similar in Arkansas.

The state’s marriage laws and the amendment violate the U.S. Constitution by “precluding same-sex couples from exercising their fundamental right to marry in Arkansas, by not recognizing valid same-sex marriages from other states, and by discriminating on the basis of gender,” Barker wrote.

Baker put the ruling on hold, anticipating an appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in St. Louis.

A spokesman for Democratic Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said McDaniel was reviewing the ruling and would decide after the Thanksgiving holiday whether to appeal in consultation with Republican Attorney General-elect Leslie Rutledge in Arkansas.

Mississippi officials had already said they planned to appeal any ruling that overturned the law.

Judges across the country have ruled against bans similar to Arkansas’ since the U.S. Supreme Court struck part of a federal anti-gay marriage law in June 2013, and gay marriage is legal in more than half of the U.S.

Jack Wagoner, a lawyer for the Arkansas couples who had told the judge last week that same-sex marriage would eventually be legal nationwide, said he was pleased with her decision.

“She’s on the right side of history,” Wagoner said. “It’s pretty clear where history’s heading on this issue.”

Another lawyer, Cheryl Maples, said eyes would turn now to the Arkansas Supreme Court, which heard arguments last week in a similar but separate case.

“If the state Supreme Court strikes down on state constitutional issues, then it’s gone as far as it can go,” Maples said.

Mississippi is part of the 5th Circuit, which is currently scheduled to hear arguments in an appeal involving Louisiana and Texas in January. Arkansas, meanwhile, is part of the Eighth Circuit, which as of yet does not have a pending appeal. Both cases, though, are likely to be put on hold if the Supreme Court accepts the Sixth Circuit cases that were recently appealed to the high court.

In any case, you can read the Arkansas case, Jernigan et al v. Crane et al and the Mississippi case, Campaign for Southern Equality et al v. Bryant et al.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. James Pearce says:

    Note how this passes without note…..

  2. aajayunlimited says:

    These states that do not want homosexual marriage should band together and secede no matter that cost. Better that than to have God’s wrath come down upon you! You have to do something! Our government has made homosexuality as if it is racial bigotry; it is not! People are naturally born to be more black than white and vice versa. People are naturally born American/European/Russian/etc. Caucasian; African/Jamaican/American/etc. Negro; American/Mexican/Spanish/South American/etc. Hispanic; and are naturally born of mixed origin. God makes man with a “male”(must penetrate) sex organ and woman with a “female”(must be penetrated) sex organ. God did not make mankind’s body to be homosexual; the object of sex is to have babies. Man cannot have babies and woman cannot fertilize an egg into an embryo; they need each other. Going against this, would bring about God’s wrath to be lava hot upon a nation or , if He allowed it to continue, it would destroy the nation. America needs to either deliver a crude ultimatum to the gov’t for them to end their fixation on gay rights or they should secede. It’s a lot like leaders long ago forcing slavery upon states that did not want it. There is Yellowstone in the West and the New Madrid Fault System(several 8.0 consecutive earthquakes that resound far in all directions–gas is centered in the region; I believe) in the East. Our gov’t could not handle Katrina; what makes you think they can do anything about the chaos that ensues the day after Yellowstone or once the New Madrid Fault once again becomes active? Plus, America is long overdue for either an invasion or extraplanetary collision/happening that seriously affects earth. Man did not create these things nor can he stop them. My point is that God has obvious ways to destroy America already in place. Why does America continue to go against God? God sees everything; will you, too, side with America’s liberal flow or be on God’s side with it?! Still, get right with Jesus Christ of Nazareth now while it may be found–just in case the American gov’t continues to force feed homosexuality down America’s throats and states just idly say it’s out of our hands. I HAD A PREMONITION THAT SAID TO ME, END OF THE WORLD! Does that mean that we are close? I don’t know. Does it mean that we are being warned to get together and sincerely repent and pray together? I don’t know. I do know that if you are antiChristian in any way when your time comes: it will be an unimaginably sad day for you! In case America cannot assuage God’s anger and the world does not improve before it gets better, you should seek Christ as Lord!

  3. Grewgills says:
  4. aajayunlimited says:

    @Grewgills: By the way, What does POE mean?

  5. An Interested Party says:

    @aajayunlimited: Oh look, the crazy uncle at Thanksgiving dinner…

  6. Grewgills says:
  7. aajayunlimited says:

    @Grewgills: Sounds like to me that you’re saying that I am so out of touch with what is going on that homosexuality is trending up and I’m stuck in the past or stuck in an unyielding concrete place(as you might think religious people are or fogeyish or conservative people might be viewed). All that I can say is that a person’s body is not a homosexual one; if it were, then homosexuals could have babies naturally. If it were, heterosexuals would not naturally be able to have sex in any way for which it is possible[while homosexuals naturally cannot]. You don’t have to be a Christian to understand that. Now, God created man and woman, so He’s against it–just went into how our bodies are designed to be heterosexual. The comparisons that I made is why God’s against it! If something is opposite of God’s way, then it is sin or error that can anger God enough to destroy the place that does it! Homosexuality is reasonless, as your body says that it is illogical. If you are falling under it’s grip, then seek help from Jesus Christ of Nazareth sincerely in his name and–if He helps you–then honor Him by repenting from your sins and following Him. If you are an unwavering sympathizer or supporter(in light of the evidence), then seek help from Jesus Christ of Nazareth to help free your mind and heart of this likewise and–if He helps you–honor Him by repenting of your sins and following Him. In both cases, have others in churches that you HONESTLY trust to pray for you.