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State plans to appeal same-sex marriage ruling

By The Associated Press

This article was published May 11, 2014 at 9:19 a.m.

EUREKA SPRINGS — The state's top lawyer has told the judge who overturned Arkansas' 2004 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage that he will appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel gave the notice 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.

"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.

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.

Comments on: State plans to appeal same-sex marriage ruling

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Displaying 1 - 6 of 6 total comments

WolfEddie says... May 11, 2014 at 3:46 p.m.

The state will lose its appeal.

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mhck52 says... May 11, 2014 at 7:20 p.m.

A constitutional amendment is unconstitutional. There's an oxi-moron. And we now know the name of the moron.

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Populist says... May 11, 2014 at 7:33 p.m.

I just love Eureka Springs and the spirit of the people there. It is a slice of Hillcrest in northwest Arkansas. We all need to concentrate on education and drug abuse. People should not worry about gays being happily married.

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RonalFos says... May 11, 2014 at 7:35 p.m.

Dear Oxi, a state constitution does not overrule the US Constitution.

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FreeSpiritMan says... May 11, 2014 at 8:29 p.m.

If I get drunk it does not effect you, If you get drunk it does not effect me, If you live with a woman out of wedlock it does not effect me, if I do the same it has no effect on you. I don't give a tinkers damn what you do as long as it does no effect me, do you get it? I don't want any of your damn judgement period, do you get it?

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Testingonetwothree says... May 12, 2014 at 4:08 a.m.

Further, with all due respect to the Third Division Circuit Court of Pulaski County, a circuit court does not establish or strike down statewide law. That would be the role of the State Supreme Court. This case has simply not yet reached that level.

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