Judge strikes all Arkansas bans on gay marriage

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 15, 2014 at 5:27 pm •  Published: May 15, 2014
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Gay marriages quickly resumed in Arkansas on Thursday after a state judge whose previous order had sown confusion among county clerks expanded his ruling to remove all vestiges of same-sex marriage bans from the state's laws.

The Arkansas Supreme Court had said Wednesday that a law that kept clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples remained on the books, despite the ruling last week by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza that declared gay marriage bans unconstitutional.

Piazza revised his order Thursday, saying no one in the state was harmed by the 456 marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples after his order and until the Supreme Court ruled. He rejected the state's request to put his decision on hold, saying gay couples would be harmed by that action.

"Constitutional violations are routinely recognized as triggering irreparable harm unless they are promptly remedied," Piazza wrote. The attorney general has again turned to the state Supreme Court for help.

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

But in Idaho, plans for same-sex marriages to begin Friday were put on hold as the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals considered whether the governor and attorney general should have more time to file an appeal a judge's ruling overturning its state ban.

Arkansas voters had added a gay marriage ban to the state's constitution in 2004, the same year Ohio voters voted to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Gay marriage supporters delivered a petition with thousands of signatures to Ohio's attorney general Thursday, urging him to drop an appeal of a federal court decision tossing out the state's ban on same-sex marriages.

Lawyers for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said Thursday that the state's 1996 ban should remain in place despite a request by a lesbian couple for recognition of their Massachusetts marriage.

In Arkansas, the clerk in Pulaski County, which includes Little Rock, resumed issuing licenses to gay couples quickly after Piazza's revised ruling, granting 11 of them by the close of business. Washington County, home to Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas, said it would resume issuing licenses Friday.

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