LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Several Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) couples have taken a stand against Arkansas Amendment 83, saying that the amendment denies them the benefits and privileges given to married heterosexual couples.
The lawsuit filed against the state of Arkansas declares that while the US Supreme Court recognized marriage as one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' the Arkansas Constitution prevents gay marriage from being recognized. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit said the amendment is unconstitutional and violates their fundamental rights.
"These are the constitutional arguments to make," said University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law Professor Terri Beiner. "Now, whether they'll be successful or not, we'll just have to wait to see what the courts do with it."
"This complaint makes several challenges to Arkansas' ban on same-sex marriages under both the state and the federal constitution," added Beiner. "If I were a lawyer representing a same-sex couple, this is the lawsuit I would bring."
While some plaintiffs in the case said they felt excited and even honored to be involved in the lawsuit, others said they felt sad to file suit against their home state over what they consider a denial of basic human rights.
On the other side of the issue, Family Council, an Arkansas-based organization that opposes same-sex marriage, issued this statement to THV 11:
"The Arkansas Marriage Amendment passed by 75% in 2004. Amendment 83 has been in place for nearly ten years. It is one of the best in the nation. If it were legally deficient, it would have been challenged years ago. This lawsuit seems to be more about gaining publicity than anything else. When they passed Amendment 83, the people of Arkansas decided that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. They don't need the courts telling them what a marriage is."
Beiner said Amendment 83 may make it difficult to declare the same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional on a state level, but said federal law supersedes state law.
"Amendment 83 amended the Arkansas constitution," said Beiner. "So you'd be arguing that it's unconstitutional under the Arkansas constitution even though it amended the Arkansas constitution, so that's a tougher argument to make; however, there is some leeway, I think, within the federal constitutional arguments to make the argument that same-sex couples should be permitted to get married under state law."
The plaintiffs want a judge to declare Amendment 83, which was adopted in 2004, unconstitutional and to be in violation of the Full Faith and Credit Clause. They also seek an injunction against future enforcement.
The lawsuit was filed in Pulaski Circuit Court Tuesday. To learn more on this lawsuit, read the PDF document attached to this story.