The latest states to join the throng are Arkansas and — wait for it — Mississippi.
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.
C’mon, Florida, do we really want to be beaten on this by Mississippi?