After Hundreds Of Same-Sex Weddings, Arkansas Officials Still Fighting

About 400 same-sex couples have received marriage licenses since the state’s constitutional ban was struck down May 9. State officials, though, are waiting for the state Supreme Court to rule on their request to halt the marriages while appealing the ruling.

Marriage equality for same-sex couples continues in some parts of Arkansas, as the state’s Supreme Court weighs repeated requests from state officials to stay the May 9 ruling that struck down its constitutional ban on marriages between same-sex couples.

AP Photo/The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Stephen B. Thornton

Two counties — Pulaski and Washington — are still issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and have issued 243 and 130 licenses, respectively, since a state judge ruled the ban unconstitutional last Friday, the county clerk’s offices told BuzzFeed.

AP Photo/The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Stephen B. Thornton

And in total, about 400 licenses have been issued to same-sex couples in the state, with almost 40 out of Carroll, Saline, and Marion counties. Many of the couples are promptly married by volunteer officiants on the spot.

AP Photo/Sarah Bentham

On Wednesday, Arkansas officials led by Attorney General Dustin McDaniel again asked the state Supreme Court to grant a stay and halt the marriages while the state appeals the decision, saying it has caused “pervasive” confusion among county officials.

AP Photo/Danny Johnston

Plaintiffs challenging the ban argue the state’s appeal is “premature” and should be dismissed because while the trial court judge ruled the ban is unconstitutional, he did not issue a final order.

To that, state officials concede that they would be fine with the Supreme Court dismissing their motion to appeal on the grounds that there is no final ruling if the justices also grant a stay in the meantime.

Additionally, clerks from Conway, White, Lonoke, and Washington counties have also asked the state Supreme Court for a stay, echoing concerns over the confusion & saying a separate state law still prohibits them from issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

The plaintiffs, in the same filing asking to dismiss the appeal, responded to the question about the other state law banning marriage for same-sex couples, saying the judge’s not striking it down was likely an oversight by the court.

A spokesperson for the Arkansas Supreme Court told BuzzFeed a ruling on the stay is “likely this week.” Pulaski and Washington counties plan to continue issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples until a stay is granted.

AP Photo/Christina Huynh

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