WHO RULES: This was the Arkansas Supreme Court that was sitting when the marriage appeal was heard. Two members (those at far lefty) have moved on. Questions remain about who'll vote on the final decision, now two months delayed.
to the roster of states where a judge has ruled for marriage equality.
Federal Judge Ginny Granade has struck down that state's bans
on same-sex marriage. The judge, a Bush appointee, did not immediately stay her ruling. The Alabama attorney general will try to get a stay.
"Careful review of the parties' briefs and the substantial case law on the subject persuades the Court that the institution of marriage itself is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution, and that the State must therefore convince the Court that its laws restricting the fundamental right to marry serve a compelling state interest," Granade wrote in her 10-page order.
...Granade, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, wrote that she considered the arguments of the Sixth Circuit but found more persuasive the legal reasoning of four other appellate courts in favor of same-sex marriage. She rejected Alabama's argument that it has a legitimate interest in protecting ties between children and biological parents.
"The Attorney General does not explain how allowing or recognizing same-sex marriage between two consenting adults will prevent heterosexual parents or other biological kin from caring for their biological children," the judge wrote. "He proffers no justification for why it is that the provisions in question single out same-sex couples and prohibit them, and them alone, from marrying in order to meet that goal."
Granade wrote that if anything, the state's same-sex marriage ban detracted from its stated goal of providing the optimal environment for children. The children of same-sex parents are "just as worth of protection and recognition" by the state as the children of heterosexual parents, she wrote.
Meanwhile, the Arkansas Supreme Court
As Cheryl Maples,
attorney for plaintiffs in a state challenge in Arkansas, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette yesterday, justice delayed is justice denied. That cuts both ways. Opponents of equality deserve finality, too.
The Arkansas Supreme Court dithering reflects poorly on the court. It will be even worse if it turns out this delay — in concert with Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's pleading yesterday — is a product of a faction scheming for a different judicial lineup and perhaps an altered outcome
of the case against what would have occurred had the seven who heard the appeal decided the case in a timely fashion.
There is a state issue to be decided in the Arkansas challenge and it will be particularly important if the U.S. Supreme Court engenders mass chaos in June by overturning decisions in dozens of states that have cleared the way for marriage. (Without any undue consequences, it should be noted.)