LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Supreme Court should reverse a circuit judge’s ruling that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office argued Monday in a court filing.

LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Supreme Court should reverse a circuit judge’s ruling that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office argued Monday in a court filing.


Monday was the deadline for the appellants to file briefs in an appeal of Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza’s May 9 ruling that Arkansas’ gay marriage ban violated both the state and federal constitutions. Piazza issued the ruling in a lawsuit filed by several same-sex couples.


The Supreme Court stayed the ruling a week after it was issued, but in the meantime several hundred same-sex couples obtained marriage licenses in the state.


The attorney general’s office argued in its brief Monday that Arkansas’ same-sex marriage ban was written into the state constitution in 2004, when voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, so Amendment 83 and related state laws cannot violate the state constitution.


"As a matter of well-established Arkansas law, a constitutional provision cannot violate earlier provisions of the constitution. Where there is an inconsistency between an earlier provision of the Arkansas Constitution and a later amendment, the amendment, being the more recent expression of the will of the people, prevails," McDaniel’s office argued.


In his ruling, Piazza cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in U.S. v. Windsor, in which the court said the federal government could not refuse to recognize state-sanctioned same-sex marriages — a ruling that also has been cited by judges who struck down same-sex marriage bans in several other states. McDaniel’s office argued in its brief Monday that the Windsor ruling does not bar states from defining marriage.


"The Windsor majority affirmed the traditional view that it is the province of individual states to choose which marriages will be recognized under state law. Indeed, none of the Supreme Court Justices in Windsor — whether in the majority or in dissent — opined that states are constitutionally required to recognize same sex marriage," the attorney general’s office argued.


McDaniel’s office also maintained that banning same-sex marriage furthers legitimate state interests, including protecting the voter referendum process; advancing procreation; promoting the raising of children by their biological parents in a stable family environment; preserving social norms linked to the traditional meaning of marriage; and taking a cautious approach to governmental social experimentation.


McDaniel has said he personally supports gay marriage but that his office will carry out its duty to defend the state’s laws, including the ban on gay marriage.


Six Arkansas county clerks are named as defendants in the lawsuit. Pulaski County Circuit and County Clerk Larry Crane filed a separate brief Monday urging the state Supreme Court to uphold Piazza’s ruling.


"Amendment 83 targets a minority to strip them of rights," Crane argued. "It does so for no reason other than to protect the majority from unfounded and irrational fears or to impose majoritarian morality. Because Amendment 83 irreconcilably conflicts with core constitutional freedoms of liberty, privacy, and equality guaranteed to all Arkansans, homosexuals among them, and declared inviolate, it cannot stand."


Also Monday, Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Little Rock filed a motion to submit a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that Piazza’s ruling should be overturned.


In the proffered brief, Taylor argued that many legal reforms in American history have been influenced by religion and criticized Piazza for couching his opinion in "a cloak of morality."


"It is difficult to fathom how the lower court can appeal to its own greater sense of fundamental morality (i.e., natural law) in support of its ruling, while chastising those who support Arkansas’ marriage laws for doing so based in part on moral teachings or their religious faith," Taylor argued.


The couples who filed the challenge to the ban have until Oct. 15 to file a brief a brief with the court.


A group of same-sex couples also is challenging the ban in federal court.