With Supreme Court Ruling, Gay Marriages Now Off in Arkansas

by Christina Huynh, The Associated Press  on Wednesday, May. 14, 2014 6:01 pm  

Susan Barr and Shelley Butler on Monday became the first legally married same-sex couple in Pulaski County. (Photo by Dan Grossman/THV 11 News)

Lawyers for gay couples said Piazza could fix the problem by simply incorporating broader language when he files a final order.

"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.

Jason Owens, who represented four counties named as defendants in the gay couples' lawsuit, said the counties were correct to wait for further guidance.

"I think it certainly validates that decision to not issue the licenses because there is still a statute in effect that prohibits that," Owens said.

Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane, at Little Rock, initially said he would continue to do so Thursday, but changed his mind after talking to the county's lawyer. Washington County clerk Becky Lewallen stopped distribution from her office near the University of Arkansas but intended to talk to other clerks about a way forward.

"It's kind of unfair, the ruling, and we are going to suspend it until we get some clarification," Lewallen said.

Also Wednesday, the high court dismissed McDaniel's initial appeal of Piazza's ruling, saying it was premature because Piazza hadn't issued a final order.

Arkansas voters approved a gay marriage ban by a 3-to-1 margin in 2004, but Piazza's ruling cleared the way for the first same-sex marriages in the Bible Belt.

"This is an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality," Piazza wrote. "The exclusion of a minority for no rational reason is a dangerous precedent."

Carroll County, home to the tourist town of Eureka Springs, offered marriage licenses to same-sex couples Saturday, the day after Piazza's ruling, but stopped Monday. Pulaski County, started issuing licenses Monday morning.

McDaniel recently said he supported gay marriage personally but would still defend the state's ban.

Seventeen other states allow gay marriage. Judges have struck down bans in Idaho, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

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