Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

May 15, 2014

No new Arkansas gay marriage licenses — for now

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Gay couples in Arkansas will not be able to get wedding licenses, even though the state Supreme Court upheld a ruling that struck down the ban on same-sex marriage, because a separate law that prevents clerks issuing the licenses to same-sex couples is still on the books.

In an unsigned order, the justices refused to put the ruling by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza on hold. Even though they rejected the state’s request to suspend the ruling, their order will still prevent any other same-sex couples from getting marriage licenses in Arkansas, at least for now.

“In our opinion, it’s not that they denied the stay or issued a stay, when they kinda, I guess, kicked the can down the road,” said Thomas Baldwin, of Bryant, who married his partner, Devin Rudeseal, on Monday in Little Rock.

Last Friday, Piazza threw out a 10-year-old ban that voters placed in the state constitution and a separate state law barring same-sex marriages. But he didn’t rule on a separate law that regulates the conduct of county clerks, which threatens fines if they issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“I think it actually makes it a little more muddy,” Chris Villines, the executive director of the Association of Arkansas Counties, said Wednesday evening after reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision.

The justices, in their decision, offered no direction to the county clerks, who knew before the ruling came out that guidance for clerks was still on the books. They had wanted to know what to do with the conflicting findings: the gay-marriage ban is unconstitutional, but clerks aren’t authorized to do anything about it.

“County clerks have been uncertain about their responsibilities and couples unable to know definitively whether their marriage will remain valid,” said Aaron Sadler, a spokesman for Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. “A stay issued by either the Supreme Court or Judge Piazza would have brought some certainty. Unfortunately, today’s decision did not do that.”

After Piazza’s decision last Friday, clerks in five counties responded by issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Through Wednesday evening, 456 gay couples in Arkansas had since received permission to marry, according to an Associated Press canvass of county clerks. Pulaski and Washington counties issued licenses Wednesday, but said after the ruling they would stop.

Couples that already have licenses can still get married.

The state’s other 70 counties had not issued licenses to gay couples, with many saying the Supreme Court needed to weigh in.

Lawyers for gay couples said Piazza could fix the problem by simply incorporating broader language when he files a final order.

“I would argue that is implicit in his ruling, but we’re going to have to get him to address that,” lawyer Jack Wagoner said.

Jason Owens, who represented four counties named as defendants in the gay couples’ lawsuit, said the counties were correct to wait for further guidance.

“I think it certainly validates that decision to not issue the licenses because there is still a statute in effect that prohibits that,” Owens said.

Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane, at Little Rock, initially said he would continue to do so Thursday, but changed his mind after talking to the county’s lawyer. Washington County Clerk Becky Lewallen stopped distribution from her office near the University of Arkansas but intended to talk to other clerks about a way forward.

“It’s kind of unfair, the ruling, and we are going to suspend it until we get some clarification,” Lewallen said.

Also Wednesday, the high court dismissed McDaniel’s initial appeal of Piazza’s ruling, saying it was premature because Piazza hadn’t issued a final order.

Arkansas voters approved a gay marriage ban by a 3-to-1 margin in 2004, but Piazza’s ruling cleared the way for the first same-sex marriages in the Bible Belt.

“This is an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality,” Piazza wrote. “The exclusion of a minority for no rational reason is a dangerous precedent.”

Carroll County, home to the tourist town of Eureka Springs, offered marriage licenses to same-sex couples Saturday, the day after Piazza’s ruling, but stopped Monday. Pulaski County started issuing licenses Monday morning.

McDaniel recently said he supported gay marriage personally but would still defend the state’s ban.

Seventeen other states allow gay marriage. Judges have struck down bans in Idaho, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

1
Text Only
National and World
  • Denver has nation’s first county fair to allow pot competitions

    Marijuana joined roses and dahlias Friday in blue ribbon events at the nation’s first county fair to allow pot competitions.
    This weekend’s Denver County Fair includes a 21-and-over “Pot Pavilion” where winning entries for plants, bongs, edible treats and clothes made from hemp are on display.
    There’s no actual weed at the fairgrounds. Instead, fairgoers will see photos of the competing pot plants and marijuana-infused foods. A sign near the entry warns patrons not to consume pot at the fair.

    August 1, 2014

  • House GOP weighs tough new immigration bills

    August 1, 2014

  • Poll: Foreign policy no longer Obama strong point

    August 1, 2014

  • US employers add 209K jobs, rate rises to 6.2 pct.

    August 1, 2014

  • Thousands rally for coal

    The echo of people chanting, “Hey, hey, EPA, don’t take our jobs away” could be heard in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Thursday.
    The voices came from about 5,000 United Mine Workers of America (UMW) members and their families along with other unions such as the Boilermakers Union and the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers International (IBEW) marching through the streets.

    August 1, 2014

  • West Africa Ebola outbreak tops 700 deaths

    Security forces went house-to-house in Sierra Leone’s capital Thursday looking for Ebola patients and others exposed to the disease as the death toll from the worst recorded outbreak in history surpassed 700 in West Africa.
    U.S. health officials urged Americans not to travel to the three countries hit by the medical crisis:  Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

    July 31, 2014

  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 31, 2014

  • The virtues of lying

    Two computational scientists set out recently to simulate the effects of lying in a virtual human population. Their results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that lying is essential for the growth of a cohesive social network.

    July 31, 2014

  • lockport-police.jpg Police department turns to Facebook for guidance on use of 'negro'

    What seems to be a data entry mistake by a small town police department in western New York has turned into a social media firestorm centered around the word "negro" and whether it's acceptable to use in modern society.

    July 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 2.12.55 PM.png VIDEO: Five-year-old doesn't want her brother to grow up

    Sadie, an adorable 5-year-old from Phoenix, wants her brother to stay young forever, so much so that her emotional reaction to the thought of him getting older has drawn more than 10 million views on YouTube.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

Local News
AP Video
Congress Approves Iron Dome Funding Raw: House OKs Bill for Border Crisis Funds Rare Whale Fossil Pulled From Calif. Backyard Denver Celebrates Pot at the County Fair Escaping Email: Inspired Vision or Pipe Dream? Obama Calls on Hamas to Release Israeli Soldier Hispanic Caucus Slams GOP for Border Bill Shifts Obama: GOP Not Even Trying to Solve Immigration Emory Prepares to Treat American Ebola Cases US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Russell Simmons, LL Cool J Visit Youth at Jail Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian US, UN Announce Deal on Gaza Cease-Fire Despite Moratorium, Detroit Water Worries Remain
Sister Newspapers' News