Main | Thursday, May 15, 2014

ARKANSAS: No Licenses Today

While the Arkansas Supreme Court yesterday declined to issue a stay on same-sex marriage, the overlooked detail of a state statute means that no licenses will be issued today by the handful of counties that had done so.
Last Friday, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza threw out a 10-year-old ban that voters placed in the state constitution and a separate state law barring same-sex marriages. But he didn’t rule on the separate law that regulates the conduct of county clerks, which threatens fines if they issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Clerks in five counties responded to Piazza’s decision by issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, and more than 450 gay couples in Arkansas have since received permission to marry. Two counties continued to issue licenses on Wednesday, but they stopped after the Supreme Court’s ruling. Couples that already have licenses can still get married.

“County clerks have been uncertain about their responsibilities and couples unable to know definitively whether their marriage will remain valid,” said Aaron Sadler, a spokesman for Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. “A stay issued by either the Supreme Court or Judge Piazza would have brought some certainty. Unfortunately, today’s decision did not do that.” The state’s other 70 counties had not issued licenses to gay couples, with many saying the Supreme Court needed to weigh in. “I would argue that is implicit in his ruling, but we’re going to have to get him to address that,” lawyer Jack Wagoner said.
Lawyers for both sides will be back in Piazza's court today to request clarification.

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