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Same-sex marriage resumes in Pulaski County

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published May 13, 2014 at 9:17 a.m. Updated May 13, 2014 at 4:19 p.m.


Lisa Weber, center, and Terri Langley-Weber, right, exchange rings during a wedding ceremony Tuesday at the Pulaski County courthouse officiated by Julie Gerlinger.

Same-sex couples marry in Pulaski County for first time

Same-sex couples in Pulaski County married Monday for the first time after a Friday ruling struck down the state's bans on same-sex unions. (By Gavin Lesnick)
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Same-sex marriage licenses were issued for a second day in a row at the Pulaski County courthouse Tuesday as couples from around Arkansas and out of state got married ahead of a possible stay that could at least temporarily halt the ceremonies.

The marriages resumed in Pulaski County even as Saline County stopped issuing licenses to same-sex couples a day after offering them.

About a dozen couples were in line at the Pulaski County clerk's office when it began issuing licenses at 8 a.m., and 18 had sought licenses by 8:30 a.m.

Terri Langley-Weber, 56, and Lisa Weber, 50, were married in a quick ceremony just down the hall from the clerk's office. Both were in tears as they exchanged rings and vows and were legally married by Julie Gerlinger, a volunteer officiant who performed 40 marriages Monday at the courthouse.

Langley-Weber and Weber drove all night from Houston, Texas, arriving at their Little Rock hotel with time enough only to shower before heading to the courthouse a few hours before it opened.

It was tense waiting and not being sure same-sex marriages would resume, Langley-Weber said. The Arkansas Supreme Court received a motion from the attorney general's office seeking a stay of the Friday ruling by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza that overturned Arkansas's ban on same-sex marriages, and it wasn't clear when a decision would be made. It wasn't expected, though, before noon Tuesday when a response motion is due.

Langley-Weber said the couple is confident same-sex marriages will ultimately be legal as court cases like Arkansas' progress.

"You have a clear understanding if voters aren't going to do it, you go to the courts," she said.

The couple will stay in town a few days to celebrate their marriage and to sightsee.

"And to say 'thank you' to Little Rock," Langley-Weber added.

Gerlinger married several other couples Tuesday morning in quick, no-frills ceremonies that she advertised as taking "45 seconds" and were sometimes a little quicker.

Two other officiants on hand were offering slightly longer, but still brief, ceremonies in the courthouse rotunda. Gerlinger said she wanted to offer couples a wedding as quickly as possible knowing the stay could potentially come down at any time.

"It's terrifying and it's exhilarating," she said, tears in her eyes after leading the emotional ceremony with Langley-Weber and Weber. "But I feel so privileged to be a part of it."

Carol and Ranee Owens, both of Little Rock, were married in the rotunda in a ceremony that took only a few minutes.

It came about two years after they underwent a commitment ceremony together.

"We knew we would be together forever," Ranee Owens said. "Now we're legal."


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Popsmith says... May 13, 2014 at 12:04 p.m.


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searkie says... May 13, 2014 at 12:26 p.m.

Why can one person override the known wishes of the majority of the people, as well as the legislature of the state and the constitution, as well as the recorded will of God, the great law maker, and he not be stopped by the state Supreme Court. What an obvious abuse of power. Why do we elect and pay the legislature to spend all the time they do every year, hashing out decisions if one person can impose his will and the wishes of a minority of people can override their laws and decisions. Will the Arkansas Supreme Court not backup our legislatures? Will the governor not stand for the majority vote of the people of the state? Chris Piazza needs to be removed from the bench. We already have enough of this kind of abuse of power in Washington.

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ToTheLeft says... May 13, 2014 at 12:33 p.m.

If gay people getting married does NOT affect you, don't worry about it.

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hah406 says... May 13, 2014 at 12:34 p.m.

searkie, a judge can over-rule the majority because the Constitution of the United States says he can. It is the principle of judicial review. And his decision will be reviewed by the Arkansas Supreme Court, and then by the United States Supreme Court. The Constitution exists in part to protect the rights of an unpopular minority from the tyranny of the majority. As for God, why don't we just leave it between those individuals and their God. It is very egotistical to presume to know the will of God or how he will judge.

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ArkansasHawk says... May 13, 2014 at 12:35 p.m.

So gay people have gotten married. How has anyone but their lives been changed? Gay marriage goes on in several states now and how has the country been negatively affected by it? I or my friends have not lost jobs, saw our way of life changed in the least bit. SO again what does it matter if they get married? There are real problems in this country the least of which is people of the same sex getting married. If marriage is SO important, why don't we pass a law that says straight and gay people now can only get a divorce if there is adultery involved, because the Bible says that is the only reason for a divorce.

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SRBROTHERINLAW says... May 13, 2014 at 12:51 p.m.


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searkie says... May 13, 2014 at 1:35 p.m.

I just really hate to see people seal their eternal destiny by going against God's plan for them. He will be the Supreme judge.

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ArkansasHawk says... May 13, 2014 at 2:12 p.m.

"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." - U.S. Constitution

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Arkansasliberal says... May 13, 2014 at 5:47 p.m.

A couple drove all night from Houston to get married at the Pulaski County Courthouse. That's commitment and love. The Miller County Courthouse could have made a boatload of money from people streaming in from Texas, but chose not to.

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wonbigholiday says... May 13, 2014 at 5:51 p.m.

Good for them. Everyone should be treated equally. And I encourage all those in opposition to read Judge Piazza's entire opinion before making uninformed negative comments.

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