The judge who struck down Arkansas’ ban on gay marriage on Friday has equated it to banning marriage between people of different races.
In his judgement, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza referred to Mildred Loving, who in 1967 successfully challenged a ban on interracial marriage in the US Supreme Court.
“It has been over forty years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice,” said Judge Piazza.
“The hatred and fears have long since vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together; so it will be for the same-sex couples. It is time to let that beacon of freedom shine brighter on all our brothers and sisters. We will be stronger for it,” he wrote.
Unlike similar recent rulings by other judges, Piazza did not suspend his ruling until the matter has been fully appealed, which allowed same-sex couples to get married immediately in the state.
One Arkansas county, however, has refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses, insisting that it would only do so if the law was struck down by the state’s Supreme Court.
Arkansas Attorney general Dustin McDaniel confirmed on Saturday that the state will appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.
The case is one of over 70 marriage equality cases working their way through the judicial system across the US.
Same-sex couples can now legally marry in seventeen states and the District of Columbia. More than 30 states still have a law or constitutional amendment defining marriage as being the union of one man and one woman.