Last week, plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit that struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage asked federal Judge Kristine Baker to vacate her stay of her ruling invalidating the ban, a ruling now on appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Today, the state to respond to the plaintiff’s expedited motion within five days, by Monday, March 2.
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That might indicate that Baker is inclined to side with the plaintiffs and lift her stay, which would once again make same-sex marriage legal in Arkansas.
In his brief to Baker in support of the motion, plaintiffs’ attorney Jack Wagoner noted that Baker stayed her ruling in November because the U.S. Supreme Court at that point had stayed a similar ruling in another state. Since then, the Supreme Court has refused to grant stays of federal court rulings overturning same-sex marriage bans in other states.
From the brief:
“Since the Court has noted that the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights are being violated on a daily basis, plaintiffs move that the court grant expedited treatment to this motion, waive the standard response time for the defendants to respond and require a shorter response, and promptly rule upon the issue.”
Stay tuned, marriage-equality proponents. Monday could be a big day.
Wagoner noted that the state normally would have had 14 days to respond, but had as yet filed no response. The effect of the judge’s order, measured in legal time excluding the weekend, is four days.
“She saw merit enough to shorten significantly the normal amount of time they would have to respond to a motion, ” Wagoner said. He added, “We provided her with authority on why her court has the jurisdiction to do what we are asking even though the “core” of the case is now pending before the 8th Circuit CA. It would appear that she agrees that she has jurisdiction to do it, as she should as we are correct on that issue.”
Wagoner said he was “very appreciative” the court was moving expeditiously “to address whether my clients should have to wait any longer for their civil rights to be recognized. Another few months of my client’s constitutional rights being violated on a daily basis may seem insignificant to the public in general, but when you can’t file a state tax return together, be on your spouse’s health insurance, have equal rights and authority on children you are raising, and similar daily life issues, it IS a big deal. Every day.”
I’ve asked Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office for a response. It follows:
“The Attorney General will respond by the March 2 deadline.”