Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Arkansas plans to appeal same-sex marriage ruling
First Published May 11 2014 11:26 am • Last Updated May 11 2014 03:13 pm

Eureka Springs, Ark. • The state’s top lawyer will ask the Arkansas Supreme Court to review a lower court’s decision to overturn a 2004 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced his intent to appeal to the high court late Saturday night, but not before 15 licenses were issued for same-sex couples in northwest Arkansas’ Carroll County, heralding the arrival of gay marriage in the Bible Belt.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"Thank God," Jennifer Rambo said after Carroll County Deputy Clerk Jane Osborn issued a marriage license to her and Kristin Seaton, a former volleyball player at the University of Arkansas. The Fort Smith couple had traveled overnight to ensure they’d be first in line, and wed moments later on a sidewalk near the courthouse.

Carroll County was believed to be the only county that issued marriage licenses Saturday. Several courthouses were open for early primary-election voting but staffers said they were not prepared to issue marriage licenses.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza paved the way for the marriages Friday with a ruling that removed a 10-year-old barrier, saying a constitutional amendment overwhelmingly passed by voters in 2004 banning gay marriage was "an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality." Piazza’s ruling also overturned a 1997 state law banning gay marriage.

McDaniel has asked Piazza to suspend his ruling, but also formally said late Saturday he wants the state Supreme Court to take up the matter. That appeal has not yet been filed.

But because Piazza didn’t issue a stay, Arkansas’ 75 county clerks were left to decide for themselves whether to grant marriage licenses. That caused confusion among county clerks, Association of Arkansas Counties executive director Chris Villines said.

"The court didn’t give us any time to get the kinks worked out," he said.

It isn’t clear how many counties would issue same-sex marriage licenses Monday, Villines said Saturday after a conference call with clerks from around the state.

Rambo, 26, and Seaton, 27, arrived in Eureka Springs about 2 a.m., slept in a Ford Focus and awoke every half-hour to make sure no one else would be at the head of the line.


story continues below
story continues below

Initially, deputy clerk Lana Gordon said she wasn’t sure she had the authority and shooed people from her office.

"We just walked out of here crying," Rambo said.

When Osborn intervened, other same-sex couples let Rambo and Seaton return to their place in line.

"And some of these people here have been waiting 50 years and they still instructed us to come up front," Rambo said.

Jason Owens, an attorney for four of the six counties named in the lawsuit over the gay marriage ban, said he’ll ask Piazza for guidance Monday how to proceed.

"My clients want to follow the law. We just want to know what the law is, essentially," Owens said.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled that a law forbidding the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages was unconstitutional. Using language similar to that from the Supreme Court, state and federal judges nationwide have struck down other same-sex marriage bans and ordered states to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

Jerry Cox, president of the Arkansas Family Council, which promoted Arkansas’ ban, said Piazza’s decision to not suspend his ruling will create confusion if a stay is issued.

"Are these people married? Are they unmarried?" Cox said. "Judge Piazza did a tremendous disservice to the people of Arkansas by leaving this in limbo."

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.