US: Arkansas and Mississippi overturn bans on same-sex marriage

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Judges in two states have separately struck down bans on same-sex marriage on the same day.

Rulings late on Tuesday came from both Arkansas and Mississippi ruling that bans on equal marriage were unconstitutional.

In Arkansas, District Judge Kristine Baker ruled in favour of a couple who were challenging the state’s ban, writing that the state was “precluding same-sex couples from exercising their fundamental right to marry in Arkansas, by not recognizing valid same-sex marriages from other states, and by discriminating on the basis of gender”.

However, Judge Baker stayed the ruling pending appeal – meaning that marriages can not begin until a higher court has heard the state’s appeal.

Meanwhile In Mississippi, District Judge Carlton Reeveso also ruled that the state’s ban was unconstitutional.

The judge wrote: “This court joins the vast majority of federal courts to conclude that same-sex couples and the children they raise are equal before the law.

“The state of Mississippi cannot deny them the marriage rights and responsibilities it holds out to opposite-sex couples and their children.”

However, he stayed the ruling for 14 days – and indicated that further action would be needed from an appeals court.

Neither rulings allow marriage to begin immediately, however – leaving the total of states that recognise same-sex marriage at 35.