LITTLE ROCK — The plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Arkansas’ ban on gay marriage said Tuesday in a court filing they can find no authority to cite in support of their position against new oral arguments because the issue has not come up before.

LITTLE ROCK — The plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Arkansas’ ban on gay marriage said Tuesday in a court filing they can find no authority to cite in support of their position against new oral arguments because the issue has not come up before.


But a lawyer for the plaintiffs argued that based on its past practices, the Arkansas Supreme Court should refuse to hear new oral arguments. The plaintiffs also filed a motion asking the court to allow same-sex marriages to proceed.


The state is appealing Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza’s May 9 ruling that the ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, a ruling that the Supreme Court has stayed.


The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in November, but Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has moved for new oral arguments in light of recent personnel changes on the court. The plaintiffs oppose the motion.


Two new members were elected to the court in November. Also, Chief Justice Jim Hannah was unable to be present for oral arguments because he was out of town. The court has not said why it did not rule before the newly elected justices took office in January.


On Feb. 5, the Supreme Court asked both sides in the case to submit briefs citing authority for their positions on whether the court should hear new oral arguments.


Cheryl Maples, attorney for the same-sex couples who filed the lawsuit, said in a response Tuesday, "There is no authority that appellees can find directly on point in a search of all state and federal courts. The issue presented is novel."


But Maples said in the filing that the court’s rules call for its proceedings to be in accordance with existing practice where no provision to the contrary is made by statute or rule.


"No ‘existing practice’ of the Supreme Court provides for holding a second oral argument before different justices after seven justices have already heard oral argument, participated in the case and taken the case under submission," Maples said in the response.


Maples also noted that the court granted expedited consideration in the case last year and argued that further delay would run counter to that ruling.


Also Tuesday, Maples filed a motion arguing that the court should lift its stay of Piazza’s ruling. She argued that Arkansas is now one of only 13 states where same-sex marriage is allowed and said the U.S. Supreme Court has given a "preview" of how it will rule on gay marriage.


The nation’s top court has declined to take action to keep stays in place barring same-sex marriage in a number of states, most recently in Alabama, Maples noted.


"The United States Supreme Court … has strongly indicated that it will find laws and state constitutional amendments, such as those of the state of Arkansas, to be in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States," Maples said in the motion.


Judd Deere, spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said Tuesday, "We are reviewing the motion filed today by the plaintiffs. The state asked for the stay of Judge Piazza’s ruling, and we strongly object to lifting the stay. The attorney general will file a response setting forth the state’s position."