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Arkansas judge strikes down gay marriage ban

BY ANDREW DEMILLO
ASSOCIATED PRESS

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- An Arkansas judge on Friday struck down the state's ban on gay marriage, opening the door for gay couples to wed.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza said the 2004 amendment's definition of 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 constitutional ban in court.

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

The 2004 constitutional amendment was passed with the overwhelming support of Arkansas voters.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled that a law forbidding the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages was unconstitutional. Since then, lower-court judges have repeatedly cited the Supreme Court decision when striking down some of the same-sex marriage bans that were enacted after Massachusetts started recognizing gay marriages in 2004.

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