Arkansas judge strikes down gay marriage ban

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Associated Press

An Arkansas judge has struck down the state's ban on gay marriage, opening the door for gay couples to wed.

Source: photos.com

Judge Chris Piazza said the 2004 amendment defining marriage as allowable only between a man and a woman is unconstitutional and violates the rights of same-sex couples.

The ruling came nearly a week after state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced he personally supports gay marriage rights but that he will continue to defend the ban in court.

McDaniel's office is expected to quickly appeal Piazza's ruling to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

The 2004 amendment to the state constitution was passed with the overwhelming support of Arkansas voters.

Since late last year, federal judges have ruled against marriage bans in Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Texas, and ordered Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

In all, according to gay-rights groups, more than 70 lawsuits seeking marriage equality are pending in about 30 states.

Democratic attorneys general in several states - including Virginia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Oregon and Kentucky - have declined to defend same-sex marriage bans.

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