Marriage Equality Ruling in Arkansas Welcomed by Southerners for the Freedom to Marry

This past Friday, May 9, Arkansas State Circuit Judge Chris Piazza struck down the state's discriminatory constitutional amendment – marriage equality's first step into the South.

Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry:

Today a state circuit judge in Arkansas ruled in favor of the freedom to marry, the latest in a unanimous wave of favorable rulings from more than a dozen state and federal judges across the country in recent months. Judge Piazza held that there is no good reason for discriminating against couples and their loved ones just because they are gay. With nearly 70 marriage cases now making their way through the courts, and five federal appellate courts now hearing arguments and soon to rule, today's decision out of Arkansas underscores that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry.

Wolfson and his organization have been working on a project called Southerners for the Freedom to Marry, and though we expect an appeal to the Arkansas ruling, it looks like the South is ready for change.

One notable Southerner helping to lead the way is Congressman John Lewis, who for more than fifty years has championed the causes of civil rights and was one of only eighty-one members of the House and Senate who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act.

The remarks he made back in 1996:

. . . are just as timely as those he makes today for the Southerners project:

. . . and they were echoed by Judge Piazza in Arkansas:

The issue at hand is the fundamental right to marry being denied to an unpopular minority. Our judiciary has failed such groups in the past.

PFAW Foundation