The state responded late Monday to federal Judge Kristene Baker's
request for arguments on whether she should keep in place her stay of the order invalidating the state ban on same-sex marriage.
Plaintiffs in the suit asked that the stay be lifted in light of recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court not to keep stays in place where lower courts had ruled such bans unconstitutional. The Supreme Court is expected to rule by June on a conflict between circuit courts on the issue.
Baker struck down the ban in November, but stayed he ruling because, at that time, the Supreme Court had kept a ban in place. It has since lifted that stay.
The state argued that the matter was out of Judge Baker's hands since an appeal of her ruling had been filed with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and briefing was underway. It said the end of a stay in a case in another state was irrelevant to this case. The state also faulted plaintiffs for waiting nearly three months after the stay was issued to ask that it be lifted. Finally, though stays have been lifted in other states, the state noted that requests to lift a stay in a Missouri case have been denied by both a district court in Missouri and the same appellate court that will hear the Arkansas appeal. It added:
In fact, just today, a district court sitting in this Circuit denied a plaintiffs’ motion to lift a stay which had been imposed in a nearly-identical case involving constitutional challenges to a state’s statutory ban on same-sex marriages.