Marriage licenses were being issued again to same-sex couples this afternoon in Pulaski County.
Faulkner County was a party to the lawsuit that opened the door to same-sex marriage in some counties, but Faulkner County was dismissed by the suit via summary judgment in the county’s favor for what has been described by some as the court’s “strategic reasons.”
Faulkner County Attorney David Hogue issued a press release on Thursday clarifying that because Arkansas as a state and Gov. Mike Beebe were also dropped from the suit, Faulkner County is not subject to Piazza’s order. Hogue has said that if or when same-sex marriage is the law in all of Arkansas, which would come with a ruling on the constitutionality of the amendment and statutes in question by the state Supreme Court, Faulkner County will abide by it.
Licenses were issued to more than 450 same-sex couples in five counties between Sunday and Wednesday, according to Associated Press reports.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled on May 9 that a state Constitutional amendment establishing a “man and woman” definition of marriage and several state statutes with similar definitions were unconstitutional.
In Piazza’s written opinion, one of these challenged statutes was accidentally omitted. This created a procedural problem, because without all challenged statutes addressed in the final holding the case was not finished.
Piazza clarified his holding on Thursday, saying that the omission was inadvertent and that nothing in the court’s analysis of the issue could give any doubt that he intended to rule all statutes that acted to prohibit same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
Also on Thursday, Piazza denied the defendants’ motion to stay his order that counties in his jurisdiction (Perry and Pulaski counties) and a few others that were parties to the case begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples, writing that there is no evidence that the defendants, the state or its citizens will be harmed by his order while the issue awaits state Supreme Court appeal.
A stay would, Piazza wrote, “operate to further damage Arkansas families and deprive them of equal access to the rights associated with marriage status in this state.”