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Couples ask federal judge for order striking down Arkansas' ban on gay marriage


LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Attorneys for two same-sex couples asked a federal judge Wednesday to strike down Arkansas' gay marriage ban, as they tried to speed up the case while the ban's constitutionality is being argued before the state Supreme Court.

The attorneys filed a motion for summary judgment, asking U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker to find a 2004 constitutional amendment and any related laws barring gay marriage unconstitutional. The couples sued the state over the ban last year.

"Arkansas' marriage bans and anti-recognition laws do not continue any existing tradition in Arkansas other than discrimination against same-sex couples," the attorneys wrote in the brief.

The immediate ruling is being sought as Arkansas' highest court is also considering the constitutionality of the ban. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza struck down the ban earlier this year, which led to 541 gay couples receiving marriage licenses before Piazza's ruling was suspended by the state Supreme Court.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is appealing Piazza's decision to the state Supreme Court. McDaniel, a Democrat serving his last year in office, has said he personally supports gay marriage but will continue defending Arkansas' ban in court. Briefs are due before the state high court in that case later this year.

McDaniel's office said he was reviewing the latest filing.

"Our office defended the state constitution in state court and will do the same in federal court," spokesman Aaron Sadler said in an email.

Gay marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Bans that have been overturned in some other states continue to make their way through the courts.

Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2004 that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

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