Thursday proved to be another big day in the same-sex marriage saga in Arkansas and Idaho. An Arkansas judge struck down all state laws that stand in the way of same-sex couples from marrying in the state today, giving a (potentially temporary) go-ahead to gay couples to seek marriage licenses, while a stay was put on gay marriages in Idaho.
The ruling of Chris Piazza, Circuit Judge for Pulaski County, Arkansas, clears up a number of uncertainties that were left last week, when he struck down a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage but not other laws that would stop gay marriages, like the one prohibiting county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The Arkansas Supreme Court decided last week to not suspend Piazza’s ruling because the clerk law effectively put marriages on hold. That didn’t stop clerks from five Arkansas counties from issuing licenses anyway. Gay couples flocked to their county clerks to get licenses, largely because a hold could be placed on Piazza's ruling any time.
The attorneys of the group of same-sex couples who sought to bring down the constitutional ban asked Piazza to clear up that issue yesterday.
The state attorney’s office sought a stay, but Piazza refused, arguing the constitutional ban violated the gay couples’ rights, and a stay would only further that.
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"A stay would operate to further damage Arkansas families and deprive them of equal access to the rights associated with marriage status in this state."
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office will appeal the decision, but in the meantime gay couples can go to Pulaski County, which includes the state capital, Little Rock, to get their marriage licenses. No other Arkansas counties were issuing licenses on Thursday.
Meanwhile in Idaho, a day after a judge in a federal district court ruled that the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, the 9th District Court of Appeals issued a stay on same-sex marriage at the request of Idaho Gov. C.L. Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.
U.S. District Magistrate Judge Candy Dale refused to put a stay on her decision to overturn a state ban on gay marriage yesterday when the governor and attorney general asked her to. Had the 9th District Court of Appeals denied their request for a stay, Otter and Wasden would have had to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Dale said that “the public interest (does not) favor preserving a status quo that deprives individuals of their constitutional rights.”
She originally called for Idaho clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same- sex couples by 9 a.m. Friday, but now gay couples in the state will have to wait for their governor's appeal to go through to tie the knot.