A group of polygamists and a machinist have filed a federal suit against Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Faulkner County Clerk Margaret Darter, arguing they should have the same rights as same-sex couples.
The lawsuit argues that same-sex marriage goes against the Establishment Clause and that as polygamists and machinists, the plaintiffs should be given the same legal rights that have been given to same-sex couples. The complaint also referenced rights not given to zoophiles. This particular suit stems from marriage licenses that were denied by Faulkner County officials.
The complaint heavily references Obergefell v. Hodge, the United States Supreme Court case that ruled that the fundamental right is guaranteed to same-sex couples under the Due Process Clause as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, ultimately barring states from denying same-sex couples the right to marry.
"This is an 'if not this, then that' lawsuit," the complaint reads. "If the Establishment Clause does not enjoin the state from legally recognizing non-secular parody marriages, then the Plaintiffs warrant the same rights to marry under the equal Protection and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and visa versa. Either way, the current definition of marriage and the State's decision to only legally recognize one form of non-secular parody marriage is wildly unconstitutional from every angle."
The plaintiffs — Chris Sevier, Joan Grace Harley, John Gunter Jr. and Whitney Kohl — said Arkansas state and county officials are entitled to allow them to marry "in accordance with their self-asserted, sex-based identity."
"If self-identified homosexuals are given the Constitutional right to marry, then so are self-identified polygamists and machinists," the complaint reads.
Sevier, a former combat infantry officer and former judge advocate general, said he believes his unconventional lifestyle should be legally recognized and followed suit against Faulkner County and other Arkansas officials when he was denied the right to marry his laptop.
"He self-asserts that his sua sponte sexual orientation is that of Objectophillia," the complaint reads. "He sought a marriage license from the Clerk of Faulkner County Arkansas — having met all of the requirements — and was arbitrarily denied for procedural and other reasons that self-identified homosexuals once were."
Other plaintiffs in the case say they identify as polygamists and were also denied marriage licenses in Faulkner County.
Each defendant has filed a motion requested the case be dismissed.
"This is not a real lawsuit," Assistant Attorney General William Bird II said in a motion to dismiss on Hutchinson and Rutledge's behalf. "It is an op-ed masquerading as a lawsuit."
Being upset with the findings of Obergefell v. Hodges and exposing and highlighting what they see as a "terribly flawed decision" does not bare grounding for the plaintiffs to file suit for being denied marriages between inanimate objects and multiple parties, Bird said, noting the plaintiffs have a track record of filing frivolous suits.
In their complaint, the plaintiffs referenced a current case brought before United States Supreme Court where two self-identified homosexuals filed suit against Masterpiece Cakeshop and Owner Jack Phillips for not designing their wedding cake. The plaintiff's assert they have filed a similar suit against the bakery "for reusing to design and provide wedding cakes in support of their wedding ceremonies held in accordance with their self-asserted sexual orientation."
Court records show the plaintiffs have filed suit against at least a dozen entities across the nation on similar grounds.
In a motion requesting the case be dismissed, Bird points out that Sevier did not provide "any documented proof" of wrongdoing in his complaint.
Sevier references he previously married an object — his laptop — in New Mexico with female-like features, but never provides a previous marriage license. Bird states in his argument for dismissal that Sevier neglected to show proof he ever applied for a marriage license in Faulkner County. Bird also states the other plaintiffs — Harley, Gunter and Kohl — never specify if they applied for a marriage license in Faulkner County.
Bird maintains throughout the motion, filed with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas on Friday, that the case should be dismissed.
"Since the Plaintiffs have no fundamental right at stake, and because they do not belong to a suspect class, and because there are numerous rational bases for denying their requests to marry objects or multiple people, the Plaintiffs fail to state an equal protection claim upon which relief may be granted," he said. "Accordingly, this Court should dismiss their equal protection claims."
A motion for dismissal on Darter's behalf was also filed Friday by County Attorney David Hogue.