Arkansas couples wed, but doubts remain
Over 200 same-sex couples in Arkansas were granted marriage licences on Monday after a judge overturned the state’s same-sex marriage ban, but many county clerks refrained from issuing licences while awaiting a supreme court appeal.
Pulaski County circuit judge Chris Piazza delivered his ruling after hours on Friday and some counties began issuing marriage licences on Saturday. In Pulaski County itself 170 licences were issued on Monday, mostly to same-sex couples.
Piazza’s decision overturned a 2004 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage – which voters approved by a margin of 3 to 1 – and also a 1997 state law.
If the judge's decision is upheld it would make Arkansas the 18th US state to allow same-sex marriage.
In the ruling, Piazza referred to a 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision that invalidated laws on interracial marriage.
“It has been over forty years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice. The hatred and fears have long since vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together; so it will be for the same-sex couples,” he said.
“It is time to let that beacon of freedom shine brighter on all our brothers and sisters. We will be stronger for it.”
70 of the state’s 75 clerks have not issued licences, with a handful filing a stay request saying the judge’s ruling did not protect them from a law that punishes clerks with fines for "wrongful issuance of a marriage license."
The Arkansas Supreme Court has given both sides until midday today* to file arguments.
*3am Wednesday EST