Two Arkansas counties have stopped issuing same-sex marriage licenses a day after granting them to couples.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Saline County Clerk Doug Curtis criticized Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza for overturning a ban on gay marriages that was based in part on a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2004 defining marriage as being between a man and a woman.
Officials at the clerk's office said two couples attempted to marry before 10 a.m. Tuesday and were instead given copies of the statement.
"Elected officials should be empowering voters, not overruling their vote," Curtis said in the statement, adding later: "With [reckless] abandonment, Judge Piazza declared Amendment 83 unconstitutional and did not exercise wisdom by placing a stay on his decision."
Marion County Clerk Dee Carleton, meanwhile, told The Associated Press that her office suspended issuing the licenses Tuesday after consulting with attorneys. The office issued one same-sex marriage license on Monday.
Because no stay was issued when the ruling came down late Friday afternoon, same-sex couples began to marry in several Arkansas counties. The first licenses were issued in Eureka Springs in Carroll County, where the courthouse has regular Saturday hours, and then Monday in several other counties, including Pulaski and Saline.
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel personally supports gay marriage but has vowed to appeal the ruling because his office is responsible for defending state laws. The Arkansas Supreme Court on Monday received a request for a stay, which if granted would halt same-sex marriages in the state.
The statement from Saline County, where six same-sex couples married Monday, said officials there issued licenses then because they believed it was the law. But, it said, "additional information" revealed the "law concerning marriages" to be "vague and unclear."
"Therefore until the law is clarified and the state is following one law in unity, the Saline County Clerk's office will follow" the constitutional amendment passed by voters, the statement said.
Asked Tuesday what additional information had come up, clerk's office chief deputy Darlene Westbrook said that the office was "waiting to hear from the Supreme Court" and referred a reporter back to the original statement.
Curtis added in that letter that judges should not "have the authority with the stroke of a pen to dismiss over 750,000 Arkansas voters."
"This is the very reason that we have Supreme Court justices that are elected on a statewide basis," he said.