Arkansas Same-Sex Marriage Ban, Proposed Constitutional Amendment 3 (2004)

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The Arkansas Same-Sex Marriage Ban Initiative, also known as Proposed Constitutional Amendment 3, was on the November 2, 2004 ballot in Arkansas as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure banned same-sex marriages.[1] On May 9, 2014, the measure was overturned by Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Chris Piazza.[2][3][4]


Court overturns measure

Judge Chris Piazza overturned this measure on May 9, 2014.

Almost ten years after the passage of Proposal 3, the measure was overturned on May 9, 2014, with no stay being provided. The state argued that the Arkansas had a right to ban same-sex marriage in order to protect children, preserve tradition and favor the ability to procreate. The court found those arguments illegitimate because "no law requires opposite-sex couples to have children or precludes same-sex couples from taking care of them."[4]

Judge Chris Piazza of the Pulaski County Circuit Court made the ruling, stating,

A marriage license is a civil document and is not, nor can it be, based upon any particular faith. Same-sex couples are a morally disliked minority and the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages is driven by animus rather than a rational basis. This violates the United States Constitution. [5]

—Judge Chris Piazza [2]

Arkansas Supreme Court appeal

A week prior to this ruling, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D) had stated that he did not personally support measures against same-sex marriages, but that he would continue to defend them as it was required of his office. McDaniel announced on May 10, 2014 that he intended to appeal the court's decision. He had asked Piazza to suspend his ruling until such appeals could be made, but Piazza issued no such stay. The matter now goes to the Arkansas Supreme Court. However, marriage licenses to same-sex couples were already being issued the day following the decision.[4][6]

District court ruling

On November 25, 2014, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker ruled in favor of two same-sex couples who challenged the ban. Judge Baker wrote that the ban violated the U.S. Constitution by preventing same-sex couples from exercising their right to marry, not recognizing valid same-sex marriages from other states and discriminating on the basis of gender. The ruling was put on hold in anticipation of appeals to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.[7]

Election results

Arkansas Proposed Constitutional Amendment 3 (2004)
OverturnedotOverturned Case:M. Kendall Wright, et al. v. State of Arkansas 60CV-13-2662
Yes 753,770 74.95%

Text of measure

The wording on the ballot said, "Providing that marriage consists only of the union of one man and one woman; that legal status for unmarried person which is identical or substantially similar to marital status shall not be valid or recognized in Arkansas, except that the legislature may recognize a common law marriage from another state between a man and a woman; and that the legislature has the power to determine the capacity of persons to marry, subject to this amendment, and the legal rights, obligations, privileges, and immunities of marriage."


The measure was supported by the Arkansas Family Council.

Financing the campaign

$334,731 was spent in favor of the amendment, while only $2,952 was spent against it.

The two major donors to the pro-campaign were:

  • The Arkansas Marriage Amendment Committee, $226,051.
  • Families First Action Committee, $73,374.[8]

Related measures

Voters in 30 states have approved legislatively-referred constitutional amendments or initiated constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriages at the ballot box. The first constitutional prohibition was in 1998, and the latest one occurred in May 2012. Most of these amendments define marriage along the lines of a "union of one male and one female."


The following constitutional bans were approved by voters, but later overturned by courts:


Cases overturning the following bans have been appealed to higher courts and are currently stayed:

Note: Same-sex marriage is legal in St. Louis County and the state recognizes same-sex marriages.


The following constitutional bans were approved by voters and have been upheld or not overturned by courts:


The following constitutional bans were defeated by voters:

Note: Arizonans defeated a measure in 2006, but approved one in 2008, which has been overturned.

See also

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