Marriage equality has already reached most of the country, though state bans on same-sex marriage are still common in the Deep South. It makes it all the more notable, then, when federal courts strike down these bans in Mississippi and Arkansas.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves in Mississippi said the state’s gay marriage ban violated same-sex couples the rights guaranteed under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. He stayed his ruling for 14 days but also noted clerks could not issue gay marriage licenses until further guidance was given from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court (the 5th circuit is currently considering challenges to same-sex marriage bans from other states in its area). […]Attorney General Jim Hood said the state would appeal the decision to the 5th Circuit and ask for a stay until that court decides the cases before it.
In Arkansas, Judge Kristine Baker issued a similar ruling yesterday afternoon. As in Mississippi, the Arkansas ruling is on hold pending appeal.
As Miranda Leitsinger’s report noted, if these rulings stand, they’ll become the 36th and 37th states to extend equal marriage rights to all couples.
But before we move on – and wait for the U.S. Supreme Court – a portion of the Mississippi ruling stood out as especially noteworthy.
From page 3 of Judge Reeves’ decision (pdf):
It has become clear to the court that people marry for a number of reasons: marriage is a profound source of emotional support; marriage is a private and public expression of commitment; some marry in exercise of their religious beliefs; some do so because it opens the door to economic and government benefits; there are those who marry to present a certain status or image; and others do it for the noble purpose of legitimizing their children. In reviewing the arguments of the parties and conducting its own research, the court determined that an objective person must answer affirmatively to the following questions:Can gay and lesbian citizens love?Can gay and lesbian citizens have long-lasting and committed relationships?Can gay and lesbian citizens love and care for children?Can gay and lesbian citizens provide what is best for their children?Can gay and lesbian citizens help make their children good and productive citizens?Without the right to marry, are gay and lesbian citizens subjected to humiliation and indignity?Without the right to marry, are gay and lesbian citizens subjected to state-sanctionedprejudice?
Answering “Yes” to each of these questions leads the court to the inescapable conclusion that same-sex couples should be allowed to share in the benefits, and burdens, for better or for worse, of marriage.
That seems to sum things up nicely.