arkansas

...now browsing by tag

 
 

USA, Arkansas: Weddings Resume Today in Arkansas Marriage Equality Case

Friday, May 16th, 2014

ArkansasAfter Judge Piazza cleared the way yesterday by striking down all state laws against Arkansas marriage equality, couples are free to marry again today, at least in Pulaski County.

The Advocate reports:

Just one day after the Arkansas Supreme Court declared Circuit Court Judge Chris Piazza’s ruling striking down the state’s constitutional and statutory bans on same-sex marriage incomplete and therefore unenforceable, Piazza has clarified that clerks in all 75 Arkansas counties may issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner… with today’s clarification, it appears that county clerks throughout Arkansas are permitted to issue the licenses to same-sex couples, though it is unclear if Piazza, as a Pulaski County Circuit Court judge, can require county clerks statewide to abide by the decision and issue marriage licenses.

However, some counties are still fighting the decision.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Four Arkansas counties are again asking the state’s highest court to suspend a judge’s ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Attorneys for Conway, Lonoke, Washington and White counties on Thursday asked the state Supreme Court to stay Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza’s order striking down all state prohibitions on same-sex marriage… They cited confusion over parts of the law banning close relatives from marrying that don’t take same-sex couples into account and the state’s covenant marriage law.

What’s next, confusion over whether to call the participants by their first names or last? This is getting ridiculous.

Finally, the state legislature may weigh in.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

An Arkansas lawmaker says he’ll ask his colleagues to pass a resolution urging the state Supreme Court to uphold a gay marriage ban and invalidate hundreds of marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples. Republican Sen. Jason Rapert of Conway says he’ll present the non-binding resolution to the Arkansas Legislative Council urging justices to reverse Pulaski County Judge Chris Piazza’s decision striking down the state’s gay marriage ban. Rapert says the resolution going before the panel Friday morning has at least 20 co-sponsors.

Now that the Judge has clarified his initial ruling to include all of the state’s laws against marriage equality, will the state Supreme Court weigh in again?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arkansas.

USA, Arkansas: Judge Strikes Down ALL Arkansas Marriage Equality Bans

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

ArkansasThis just in – Judge Chris Piazza has extended his Arkansas marriage equality ruling to strike down all the laws banning same sex marriage in the state.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

An Arkansas judge has struck down all state laws preventing gay couples from marrying, expanding on his order finding such bans unconstitutional. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza clarified his ruling on Thursday, a day after the state Supreme Court noted that a prohibition on county clerks issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples still stood.

Piazza also rejected a request to suspend his ruling, saying there’s no evidence the state would be harmed by allowing same-sex marriages to continue. “The same cannot be said of the plaintiffs and other same-sex couples who have not been afforded the same measure of human dignity, respect and recognition by this state as their similarly situated, opposite sex counterparts,” Piazza wrote. “A stay would operate to further damage Arkansas families and deprive them of equal access to the rights associated with marriage status in this state.”

Now that thus excuse has been taken away from them, will the other counties follow suit and finally start issuing same sex marriage licenses?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arkansas.

USA, Arkansas: Weddings Shut Down in Arkansas Marriage Equality Case

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

The state Supreme court declined to stay a lower court’s Arkansas marriage equality ruling, so why have the weddings stopped?

Edge Boston explains:

Arkansas

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza had specifically struck down Arkansas’ constitutional amendment 83 of 2004 as well as Act 144 of 1997, which says that marriage is “only between a man and a woman.” However, his ruling did not address another section of the law that directs how county clerks issue marriage licenses and specifies that they’re not to be issued to same-sex couples.

What happens next?

Lisa Keen at Towleroad.com reports:

Jack Wagoner, an attorney for the 12 plaintiff couples, told the Arkansas Times he’d be in court today to “fix” the problem. “How can you find something unconstitutional,” said Wagoner, “but not affect a statute that would require the clerks to do something unconstitutional?”

It really makes no sense – so hopefully the judge will clear the way for weddings to resume – this time, across the entire state.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arkansas.

USA, Arkansas: Supreme Court Won’t Stay Arkansas Marriage Equality Decision

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

ArkansasThe state supreme court said it wouldn’t stay the Arkansas marriage equality ruling, but we’re not outta the woods yet.

Edge Boston reports:

The high court on Wednesday turned down the request from Attorney General Dustin McDaniel that would have halted the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses. But the court also gave no direction to counties about what they should do, saying the circuit judge’s ruling had no effect on a state law barring clerks from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Two counties had been issuing licenses despite that prohibition. Pulaski County said it would continue to do so. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza had ruled last week that a voter-approved gay marriage ban was unconstitutional, but didn’t issue a stay.

So does Judge Piazza now have to clarify if his ruling applies to this other law as well? Or…?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arkansas.

USA, Arkansas: Plaintiffs File Brief; Weddings Continue

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Arkansas

The plaintiffs in Arkansas’s marriage equality lawsuit filed their brief aiming to block a stay with the state Supreme Court.

Towleroad.com reports:

Earlier today, the plaintiffs in the Arkansas case overturning the state’s ban on same-sex marriage filed a motion asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to deny separate requests filed by a group of county clerks and by the Attorney General for a stay on the ruling, The Arkansas Times reports: The motion cites the [county clerk] appellants’ contention that Piazza’s order created a “lack of clarity as to the current state of the law” and says the stay “should be denied and dismissed because County Clerk Appellants have failed to allege facts or law establishing” their entitlement for the stay.

Why are many county clerks dragging their feet and declining to give licenses to same sex couples?

Think Progress has some answers.

There are a number of reasons why Friday’s decision has created confusion for the clerks. Jason Owens, one of the lawyers who represented the six counties named in the marriage suit, told the Arkansas times that there are various statutes written into the law that weren’t mentioned in Friday’s decision that continue to limit marriage to a man and a woman. Owens acknowledged that Circuit Judge Chris Piazza clearly intended to address the matter completely, but the loose ends in the law leave questions for how county clerks should handle the situation.

Perkins also pointed out to ThinkProgress that Piazza’s decision, despite overturning the ban on same-sex marriage, did not include an injunction ordering counties not to enforce it. Thus, the six county clerks named in the suit were left “unclear if they were being instructed to issue same-sex licenses.” Moreover, Arkansas’ other 69 counties were left similarly in doubt as to whether the decision applies statewide.

One additional concern is that many of the clerks use software that has gender-specific language on the marriage forms, such as “bride,” “groom,” “Mr.,” and “Mrs.” If a same-sex couple were to be issued a license using such a form, it could potentially compromise the legal validity of that license.

Who is still issuing licenses?

Until Tuesday, four counties — Saline, Marion, Pulaski, and Washington — were issuing licenses, but Saline and Marion have both stopped as well, explaining that they want to wait until a ruling is issued by the courts.

Governor Beebe wants the Supremes to decide on the validity of the marriages created thus far.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe says it’ll be up to the state’s high court to decide whether hundreds of marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples are valid while the state defends its gay marriage ban. Beebe told reporters Tuesday that the Supreme Court will ultimately have to decide whether the state should recognize the roughly 300 marriage licenses that have been issued since a Pulaski County judge struck down the state’s gay marriage ban.

And ABC News looks at the history in the state.

Fifty-seven years after federal troops escorted nine black students into Little Rock’s Central High School as a white mob jeered, Arkansas again finds itself in the center of a debate over civil rights. This time, the issue is gay marriage, but the 1957 desegregation crisis still casts a shadow… Gay rights supporters regularly invoke the 1957 desegregation battle, warning opponents that history may not look kindly on them. At the same time, those concerns may not resonate throughout Arkansas, where recent polling still shows heavy opposition to gay marriage.

When will we hear from the Supremes? And will they let the weddings continue? Fingers crossed…

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arkansas.

USA, Arkansas: Supreme Court Asks for Response Today

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014
arkansas gay marriage, marriage equality, same sex marriage,

Red = No, Green – Yes

Arkansas AG Dustin McDaniel asked the state Supreme Court to stay the marriage equality decision there. The response?

Towleroad.com reports:

The Arkansas Supreme Court has responded to Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s request for a stay of Judge Chris Piazza’s ruling overturning the state’s ban on gay marriage by giving plaintiffs until noon tomorrow to respond. The Arkansas Times paper adds that it’s unclear how quickly the Supreme Court will rule. It normally issues opinions on Thursdays, but in extraordinary cases sometimes issues them immediately.

Will there be a stay?

Think Progress chimes in:

The Arkansas decision is a bit different from the many other post-Windsor decisions over the past year because it was decided by a state judge. That means it has implications only for the state of Arkansas, and the Arkansas Supreme Court is not necessarily bound to stay the decision as the federal courts have been since the U.S. Supreme Court stayed Utah’s decision. Thus, the Arkansas Supreme Court could act the same way the New Jersey Supreme Court did, allowing marriages to proceed as the case’s appeals are heard, a decision that actually prompted New Jersey to withdraw its appeal.

Four state counties are banning together to ask for a stay:

The Conway, Lonoke, Washington and White county clerks asked the state Supreme Court Monday to stay Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza’s ruling that the 2004 constitutional amendment and 1997 law banning same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel earlier Monday asked the court to stay Piazza’s ruling. The counties argue that Piazza’s ruling didn’t address another state law banning issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Meanwhile, we have more on the reason Eureka Springs / Carroll County stopped issuing marriage licenses.

Queerty reports:

The reason: Some bizarre, slightly confusing, far-fetched technicality that probably won’t last very long. “This office was notified this morning by Mike Rainwater that there was a law left on the books prohibiting a county clerk from issuing a marriage license to persons of the same gender,” the office of Carroll Country Prosecuting Attorney, Tony Rogers, said in a press release. “This law was not addressed by Judge Piazza, and because of this, we advised the county clerk to stop selling marriage licenses to person of the same gender.” In other words: Same-sex couples can get married, but it’s illegal for clerks in Carroll Country to actually issue marriage licenses to them.

And Ari Ezra Waldman has a great analysis of the decision:

Late Friday, Judge Chris Piazza (right), a state court judge in Arkansas, declared his state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional and ordered the county clerk’s office to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. It was the first post-Windsor marriage equality decision based on federal and state grounds. And because he did not stay his order, gay couples could almost immediately get married (and have!). The Arkansas attorney general has filed a motion for a stay and only a select few counties are following the judge’s order.

You may be asking yourself a few questions: How did this all come about? Why a state court case, especially since most of our post-Windsor success (save New Jersey and New Mexico) has come through the federal courts? Why are certain county clerks defying the judge and not issuing marriage licenses? What happens now?

Another side note: the Arkansas Health Department is now allowing same sex parents to be listed on birth certificates.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

The Arkansas Department of Health is allowing same-sex couples to be listed as the parents on birth certificates after a judge struck down the state’s gay marriage ban. Health department spokeswoman Kerry Krell said Monday that two gay couples have already sought to both be listed as parents on birth certificates issued by the state.

It’s gonna take more than a court order to stuff this genie back into the bottle.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arkansas.

USA, Arkansas: Carroll County Stops Issuing Marriage Licenses

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Red = No, Green = Yes

A lawyer has brought the issuance of marriage licenses in Carroll County (home to Eureka Spring) to a halt.

Joe.My.God reports:

JMG reader Homer writes to say that Carroll County, home to gay-friendly Eureka Springs, has ceased issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after being served with a lawsuit from a local attorney. The Associated Press is confirming that gay couples are now being turned away. After gay couples received marriage licenses during the weekend in Carroll County, the local clerk’s office says it will now just issue licenses that include a man and a woman. Carroll County clerks offices in Berryville and Eureka Springs said Monday they were no longer granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Deputy clerks in both locations referred questions to County Clerk Jamie Correia. She couldn’t be reached for comment. The Berryville office said Monday it had issued one marriage license to a gay couple. The Eureka Springs office referred all questions to Correia.

Apparently Marion County is issuing licenses now:

ABC News reports:

Marion County Clerk Dee Carleton said her office had issued one marriage license to a gay couple by late Monday morning. The clerk’s office said two men from Yellville received the license.

There are two more counties in the definite in column.

USA Today reports:

In her office at the Baxter County Courthouse in downtown Mountain Home, Ark., Clerk Canda Reese said her office will not issue same-sex marriage licenses. Reese also said that Boone County will not issue the licenses either.

In the meantime, the initial decision has now been appealed directly up to the state Supreme Court.

Equality on Trial reports:

State officials in Arkansas have filed a notice of appeal of last week’s decision striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. The state filed the notice with the Arkansas Supreme Court, bypassing lower courts in the state.

Will the state Supreme Court issue a stay?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arkansas.

What A Great Day To Be Alive!

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Michael Sam kiss

There are days I wonder why I even got out of bed. The papers are filled with horror and my work seems dreary. Even the weather is dark and stormy. All I want to do is crawl back in bed and hope the world comes to its senses and that my life will find new purpose. Saturday, May 10 was not one of those days.

LGBT Americans woke up on Saturday morning to the news that marriage equality had come to the Bible belt state of Arkansas. Who would ever have imagined just two years ago that LGBT couples would be lined up at the county clerk offices in The Natural State to obtain marriage licenses. After all, the latest polls showed that only a mere 27% of the state’s citizens support marriage equality. That is one of the lowest levels in the country.

ES2However, the pictures being sent out by Razorback fans were proof that it indeed was happening. Yes, it is possible there will soon be another one of those impedimental ‘stays’ from the courts but as of this moment there are same-sex couples married in Arkansas!

Authored By David Mixner – See the Full Story at Towleroad.com

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

USA, Arkansas: More Gay Weddings; Many Counties Balk

Monday, May 12th, 2014
Arkansas

Green = Yes, Red = No

The first same sex marriage license has been issued in Pulaski County in Little Rock, Arkansas.

ABC News reports:

Couples lined up before dawn Monday outside Little Rock’s courthouse as the state’s largest county began issuing gay marriage licenses following a judge’s ruling overturning Arkansas’ constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The Pulaski County clerk’s office issued its first same-sex marriage license shortly after 8 a.m. After business hours closed Friday, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled that Arkansas’ voter-approved ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. Piazza did not issue a stay, and 15 same-sex couples obtained marriage licenses Saturday in the left-leaning tourist town of Eureka Springs. The first Little Rock license went to Shelly Butler, 51, and Susan Barr, 48, of Dallas, who have been together since they met at Southern Arkansas University in 1985.

Meanwhile, most Arkansas counties are not issuing licenses today.

The Arkansas Times reports:

Most counties in Arkansas will not be issuing licenses, relying on legal guidance that — if the counties were not defendants in the case (only six were) — and absent a direct order to cease discriminatory practices, the state ban remains in place in those counties. At least one county that IS a defendant — Lonoke — apparently has announced it will not issue licenses. Several counties hoped to raise an objection about lack of proper software as a delaying tactic in hopes a court will stay the order. But even the county attorney in Republican Benton County, while claiming exemption for that county because it isn’t a defendant, said claiming lack of software was a poor excuse. The counties could simply return to using paper and typewriters as they did in the pre-computer days. Perhaps a request for a contempt of court order would get Lonoke’s attention.

Some counties are saying they definitely won’t issue licenses, while some are saying they will. Joe.My.God has more:

Most counties in Arkansas will not be issuing licenses, relying on legal guidance that — if the counties were not defendants in the case (only six were) — and absent a direct order to cease discriminatory practices, the state ban remains in place in those counties. At least one county that IS a defendant — Lonoke — apparently has announced it will not issue licenses. Several counties hoped to raise an objection about lack of proper software as a delaying tactic in hopes a court will stay the order. But even the county attorney in Republican Benton County, while claiming exemption for that county because it isn’t a defendant, said claiming lack of software was a poor excuse. Pulaski County is home to the state capital of Little Rock. Arkansas readers: please send us your photos. UPDATE: Twitter peeps report that Washington County will also be issuing licenses today.

Faulkner County has also said no. LGBTQ Nation reports:

The court clerk for one Arkansas county says she will not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples when the court opens Monday. The office of Faulkner County Clerk Melinda Reynolds released a statement Sunday evening to local media saying it will not be issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

The Attorney General has asked the judge for stay, but he declined to issue one before. The AG may need to appeal to the Supreme Court to get the weddings shut down – so we could have a day or two of weddings before this happens.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arkansas.

USA, Arkansas: One County Lets Couples Marry, AG Requests Stay – What Happens Monday?

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

ES6Couples are marrying in Carroll County.

ABC News reports:

Gay marriage arrived in the Bible Belt on Saturday, beginning with two women who had traveled overnight to ensure they’d be first in line. “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 wed moments later on a sidewalk near the courthouse; the officiant wore a rainbow-colored dress. In total, 15 licenses were issued for same-sex couples in northwest Arkansas’ Carroll County, Osborn said.

The morning wasn’t without drama.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

As dawn came, no one was certain that any clerk would issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple. Initially, deputy clerk Lana Gordon said she wasn’t sure she had the authority and shooed the couples from her office. “We just walked out of here crying,” Rambo said. But once Osborn intervened, other same-sex couples let the couple 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.

Other county clerks are conflicted.

The Arkansas Times reports:

County clerks and attorneys had their conference call with Association of Arkansas Counties officials this afternoon about complying with Circuit Judge Chris Piazza’s ruling overturning the state Constitution and 1997 statutory ban on same-sex marriage. They’re hoping for further court guidance and, ideally, a stay of Piazza’s ruling. Otherwise, confusion and unhappy customers seem likely to be the order in Arkansas when business resumes Monday morning…

Some feathers seem likely to be ruffled Monday morning. A number of clerks already have received inquiries from same-sex couples hoping to be married. But the consensus of the session — led by opinions from David Hogue in Conway, Ralph Ohm in Hot Springs and George Spence in Bentonville — was that the lack of proper forms was an adequate ground to refuse issuance of a license to a same-sex couple because otherwise the clerks would be issuing an incorrect document that could ultimately cause legal problems. Ohm suggested counties shouldn’t hurry the process of getting proper forms ready.

The Attorney General has requested a stay.

Pink News reports:

The Attorney General Dustin McDaniel yesterday filed for a stay, which would put the ban back in place and prevent recognition of same-sex marriage until the appeals process is concluded. It could take several months for an appeal to conclude, as it would likely go all the way to the Supreme Court.

It’s not clear which other counties will allow same sex couples to marry come Monday morning if no stay has been issued.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arkansas.