Arkansas Supreme Court Denies Stay of Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

LITTLE ROCK, AR -- The Arkansas Supreme Court denied a motion from the state to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

However, in a seven page ruling (see attached), justices did not provide specific guidance to county clerks on how to handle licenses when offices reopen Thursday.  One Wednesday evening, the Washington County Clerk's Office reported they will stop issuing licenses to same-sex couples until there is more clarification.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court said the lower court "did not rule on the constitutionality of Ark. Code Ann. $ 9-11-208(b), which forbids circuit court clerks from issuing marriage licenses to persons of the same sex."

Attorneys for same-sex couples said Wednesday evening it will ask Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza to clarify his ruling Thursday to include the statute unconstitutional.

Attorney Jack Wagoner says Piazza granted his clients motion for summary judgement last Friday, which included ruling the voter approved Amendment 83 of the Arkansas Constitution and Act 144 of 1997 unconstitutional.

"We cited all three, Amendment 83, Act 144 and the state statute in our request for summary judgement," Wagoner says. "And he granted summary judgement." "We just need to file a motion for the judge to clarify he meant to include the annotated code in his original ruling."

Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane responded saying he does not think same-sex marriage licenses will be issued Thursday morning until more clarification is provided.

Crane added he does believe licenses already issued will still be valid.

The office of Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, D-Arkansas, issued a statement after the ruling.

"In the past few days, county clerks have been uncertain about their responsibilities and couples unable to know definitely whether their marriage will remain valid," spokesperson Aaron Sadler says. "A stay issued by either the Supreme Court or Judge Piazza would have brought some certainty. Unfortunately, today's decision did not do that."

We will update you will details as they become available.

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