As we head into Thanksgiving, two judges in the South gave us one more thing to be thankful for…more marriage equality. Just yesterday, federal judges in Arkansas and Mississippi ruled the states’ respective marriage bans unconstitutional.
In Arkansas, the ruling, which is on hold pending appeal, is the second court ruling to find the state’s ban to be unconstitutional. The first ruling came from a state court judge in May in a case that was heard on appeal before the Arkansas Supreme Court this past week.
Hours after the victory in Arkansas, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves ruled Mississippi’s ban on same-sex couples’ marriages is also unconstitutional, writing, “Gay and lesbian persons are full citizens that share the same rights as other citizens, including the right to marry.”
Unfortunately he put the decision on hold for two weeks. Judge Reeves explained his decision, “Today’s decision may cause uneasiness and concern about the change it will bring,” U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves wrote. “Mississippi continues to change in ways its people could not anticipate even 10 years ago. Allowing same-sex couples to marry, however, presents no harm to anyone. At the very least, it has the potential to support families and provide stability for children.”
So chalk up two more marks in the win column for marriage equality. All eyes are on the U.S. Supreme Court, as earlier this month the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit became the first appeals court to uphold marriage bans. While this was a defeat for equality, it appears to have created the circuit split the high court – and marriage equality proponents – had been waiting for.
The Supreme Court earlier last month declined to hear any of the seven marriage equality cases before them, a decision that immediately ushered marriage equality into several states bringing the number of marriage equality states to 30 plus the District of Columbia. Since then, even more states have been added to the list and currently marriage equality has reached 33 states (Arkansas and Mississippi will bump the number to 35) and the District of Columbia.