May 14: Supreme Court halts same-sex marriage in AR, for now

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The state Supreme Court has weighed in on Arkansas' same-sex marriage debate. It appears Wednesday night's decision has put a stop to same-sex marriage in the state for now, but experts say it was far from a final, definitive ruling.

Shortly after the Supreme Court decision came down Pulaski County clerk Larry Crane said he planned to meet with his legal counsel this morning, and then he spoke with THV's Dustin Wilson and said that Pulaski County will no longer issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Crane said, "Until Judge Piazza rules on it that particular statute is in effect and therefore we will not as of five minutes ago (8 a.m.), we are not issuing anymore same sex marriage licenses and won't until something else happens."

Josh Silverstein, a professor at UALR's Bowen School of Law, said that the state Supreme Court did two things in Wednesday's ruling. First, it dismissed the state's request for an appeal. Second, it did not issue a stay on the original circuit court decision because that original decision did not affect the state's same-sex marriage ban.

"The counties and all of us have interpreted Judge Piazza's decision as being broader than the Supreme Court says it is," said Silverstein. "The Supreme Court said that Judge Piazza's ruling, however broad it was, it didn't touch the statute that prohibits counties from issuing licenses for marriage to same-sex couples."

Cheryl Maples, who filed the initial lawsuit challenging the state's same-sex marriage ban, was encouraged by the Supreme Courts' decision Wednesday night and felt confident that Piazza will go back and close the loophole in his original ruling.

"Actually I'm quite pleased, the case is going back before Judge Piazza," said Maples via phone from Heber Springs. "If you read his previous decision that was handed down there is no question, he found those laws unconstitutional, period... He will uphold the licenses that were issued and he will uphold the actions by the clerk and things will get right back to where they were."

According to legal experts, once Piazza rules on the case again the state will most likely issue a similar response.

"I think we'll be going through this all over again in the next week," added Silverstein.


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