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Arkansas lawsuit seeks to overturn same-sex marriage ban

Three same-sex couples on Monday filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] challenging Arkansas' same-sex marriage ban. The plaintiffs argue that Amendment 83 to the Arkansas Constitution [text, PDF], which reads, "Marriage consists only of the union of one man and one woman," violates their rights to equal protection and due process under the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution. Two of the couples applied for marriage licenses in Pulaski County but were turned down. The third couple is legally married in New York, but their marriage is not recognized by the Arkansas government. The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas [official website], names Governor Mike Beebe, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel [official websites] and Pulaski County Circuit Clerk Larry Crane as defendants.

The lawsuit, and a similar suit [JURIST report] challenging Pennsylvania's same-sex marriage ban, comes in the wake of the recent US Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor [SCOTUSblog backgrounder; JURIST report]. The court ruled [opinion, PDF] 5-4 that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text; JURIST news archive] is unconstitutional. The ruling did not create a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, but it entitles couples in lawfully recognized same-sex marriages to certain federal benefits.

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