Skip to main content

Court halts Arkansas same-sex marriages

By Kevin Conlon and Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 7:32 PM EDT, Fri May 16, 2014
The Rev. Tony Larsen and his partner, Craig Matheus, are refused a marriage license by Racine County Clerk Wendy Christensen, right, in the clerk's office in Racine, Wisconsin, on Friday, June 13. The county does not grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite a judge's ruling that the state ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. The Rev. Tony Larsen and his partner, Craig Matheus, are refused a marriage license by Racine County Clerk Wendy Christensen, right, in the clerk's office in Racine, Wisconsin, on Friday, June 13. The county does not grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite a judge's ruling that the state ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
HIDE CAPTION
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
Same-sex marriage in U.S.
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A state judge in Arkansas earlier struck down same-sex marriage ban
  • Arkansas Supreme Court grants a stay, thus preventing more such marriages
  • Status of couples who got marriage licenses is unclear

(CNN) -- Arkansas' Supreme Court on Friday afternoon stopped any more same-sex marriages in the state, a court spokeswoman said, leaving the legal status of more than 400 gay and lesbian couples who got marriage licenses in limbo.

This development stems from 21 couples' legal challenge of Amendment 83 to the Arkansas Constitution, arguing that it violates their federal and state rights of equal protection and privacy.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled in their favor last Friday. But same-sex marriage was back up in the air after the state Supreme Court said Wednesday it couldn't decide whether to grant an emergency stay because Piazza's decision was "not final."

The county judge updated his order Thursday, adding that his decision allowing same-sex marriage took effect immediately. Pulaski County, at least, was issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples by Thursday afternoon.

Supreme Court spokeswoman Stephanie Harris told CNN that more than 400 same-sex couples got marriage licenses in the state since last week's original ruling. She said Friday that the legal status of any of these marriages is unclear.

CNN first learned of the state Supreme Court's issuance of an emergency stay -- which is in effect while its judges consider the appeal of Piazza's ruling in full -- via Twitter.

The Arkansas case is an entirely in-state matter, involving a local county court and the state's Supreme Court. But it's similar to a spate of federal rulings in recent months that have struck down other states' bans on same-sex marriage.

In those cases, U.S. district judges ruled that the marriage restrictions violate the federal Constitution's equal protection guarantee. But none of these decisions are in effect now, because either those judges stayed their rulings pending appeals or appellate courts did the same.

There were a few states, including Michigan and Utah, in which same-sex couples married before higher courts stepped in to issue emergency stays. That's what happened in Arkansas.

Carl Tobias, a constitutional law professor at the University of Richmond, said Friday that he expects more challenges in state courts to same-sex marriage prohibitions. Still, Tobias thinks advocates are more likely to take their fight to federal court.

"Plaintiffs have preferred to sue in federal courts in the apparent belief that they are a more favorable venue, or that federal judges will view their rights more broadly," said Tobias.

Same-sex couples marry in Michigan before court halts licenses

Appeals court scrutinizes Virginia same-sex marriage ban

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Same-sex marriage debate
Find out which states match your values when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
updated 10:25 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Here's a look at what you need to know about same-sex marriage in the U.S. and worldwide.
Which states allow same-sex marriage, and which states don't?
updated 3:39 PM EDT, Thu August 29, 2013
Here's a look at same-sex marriage in the United States, by the numbers.
updated 7:48 PM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
In the same-sex marriage debate, Elton John believes he knows where Jesus would've stood.
updated 7:59 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
A year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA.
updated 8:26 AM EDT, Sat June 28, 2014
Anthony Sullivan was a young Australian with Robert Redford looks. Richard Adams emigrated from the Philippines as a child and became an American citizen.
updated 10:08 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
The ruling creates greater momentum for the Supreme Court to decide whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to wed.
updated 3:31 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to allow pastors to marry same-sex couples in states where it is legal.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT