Arkansas Joins Texas in Suing Feds Over Benefits for Same-Sex Couples


Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced today that the State has joined Texas, Louisiana and Nebraska in a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Labor over the agency’s promulgated rule that changes the definition of the term “spouse” under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to adopt same-sex marriage nationwide. Rutledge released the following statement:


“The federal government should not, and in fact cannot, interfere with state sovereignty over domestic relations. Arkansas law is supreme in the realm of domestic relations and marriage, and only the courts can force states to change their marriage definitions. In Arkansas, the definition of marriage is between one man and one woman. The federal court in Texas should put a stop to this unconstitutional and unlawful Labor Department rule without delay.”


As explained in the complaint, the Labor Department’s regulation is unconstitutional because it interferes with state law governing marriage. The rule also violates federal law, encroaches upon the States’ federally-protected sovereign immunity and unlawfully attempts to legislate nationwide same-sex marriage via executive agency rule-making.


Late today, the federal court in Texas granted the states’ request to enjoin the Labor Department’s rule.


“I am pleased the Texas court agreed with Arkansas and the other states, and granted the injunction, stopping this rule from moving forward,” said Attorney General Rutledge.


The rule change is set to take effect March 27.  Since same sex couples cannot get married in Arkansas or Texas the proposed rule from the Labor Department would only apply to same sex couples married in other states that have moved to Arkansas or Texas.

Daniel Williams, legislative director for Equality Texas, a group that lobbies for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people told the Texas Tribune: “I think there are a lot of people who would like to know why the attorney general cares if loving, committed couples are recognized as loving, committed couples.”

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