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Carroll County Courthouse Grants First Same-Sex Marriage Certificate

EUREKA SPRINGS, AR -- The first marriage license for a same-sex couple in Arkansas has been issued in Eureka Springs.
EUREKA SPRINGS, AR-- Same-sex marriage is now legal in the state of Arkansas.

Friday evening Pulaski County circuit judge, Chris Piazza said the 2004 amendment's definition of marriage as allowable only between a man and a woman is unconstitutional and violates the rights of same-sex couples.

Once the defendant in the case is the state, the ruling in Pulaski county applies to all counties across Arkansas. The Carroll County western district clerk's office in Eureka Springs was open on Saturday to issue marriage licenses and after Friday's ruling, gay couples lined the courthouse steps.

However, when it was time to open the front doors, couples in line said the clerk turned them all away. For a short time, some folks thought the courthouse would not be opening at all and a protest ensued. A short time later, the doors were opened and couples started making their way into the courthouse to get a marriage license.

Carroll County deputy clerk, Jane Osborn, said the clerk scheduled to work Saturday morning saw the mass of people at the door, and felt like she couldn't handle the crowd. That's when Osborn made the trip to the courthouse to take her place, because she felt it was the right thing to do.

Osborn said, "I'm happy to be here. Some of them have been together for many years and I think if they choose to get married they should have a right to do that."

With the doors finally open and marriage licenses being written, couples in line couldn't wait to get to the front. Jonathan Gober said, "We've been together for ten years. We have a home together and we have three beautiful children together and we just want to make it official."

Jennifer Rambo and Kristin Seaton of Fort Smith were first in line to make their marriage official. It's a day they've anticipated for years. Rambo said, "I'm still in shock by it but yeah first ones in Arkansas history. It's been eventful...it's an indescribable feeling." Seaton said, "We got engaged in March and didn't expect this to happen so it's a great surprise."

Attorney, Cheryl Maples was there to see so many finish what she started. She filed the lawsuit declaring the ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional in 2013.

Maples said, "Many people are going through and getting marriage licenses and I was the proud witness of the first same sex marriage in the state of Arkansas."

Immediately after Friday's ruling, she said the Attorney General's office filed a motion for an emergency stay. "They are going to try to get the judge to stop all of this. They've got thirty days from yesterday to file their appeal with the Supreme Court and when the supreme court renders it's decision this case is over with."

Rambo and Seaton said nothing will keep them from focusing on their future as a legally married couple.

Rambo said, "We had high hopes we thought maybe eventually at some point but we didn't think this soon. We've been waiting four years just to have equal rights. There's nothing that can take this away from us."

Fifteen marriage licenses were issued at the Carroll County courthouse on Saturday. This, after a constitutional amendment was overwhelmingly passed by voters in 2004 to ban gay marriage.

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