AR circuit judge denies stay of order lifting same-sex marriage ban

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Little Rock, AR, United States (4E) – Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza on Thursday rejected again the state’s petition to stay his May 9 order lifting the ban on same-sex marriage in Arkansas.

Piazza said there is no evidence the state would be harmed by allowing same-sex couples to continue marrying.

“There is no evidence that Defendants, the State or its citizens were harmed by the entry of the Court’s original order or that they will be harmed by the clarifications contained within the Final Order and Rule 54(b) certification. However, the same cannot be said of the Plaintiffs and other same-sex couples who have not been afforded the same measure of human dignity, respect and recognition by this state as their similarly situated, opposite-sex counterparts. 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,” Piazza said in his ruling, according to Arkansasmatters.com.

His ruling came a day after the state Supreme Court denied the state’s appeal for a stay of his order and sent back the case to him for clarification. A group of Arkansas same-sex couples asked the state Supreme Court to dismiss the appeal and deny a stay.

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday said Piazza’s ruling is not final so it has no jurisdiction to hear the appeal. It also said Piazza has not ruled on a state law, rkansas Code Annotated 9-11-208(b), that prohibits county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“Therefore, the circuit court’s order has no effect on Ark. Code Ann. 9-11-208(b) and its prohibition against circuit and county clerks issuing same-sex marriage licenses,” the Supreme Court said in explaining why it would not issue a stay, according to Arkansasnews.com.

In his ruling last week, Piazza said that Arkansas’ constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman is unconstitutional. Several counties reacted by issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. The Pulaski County clerk’s office issued 313 same-sex marriage licenses since May 9, including 40 on Wednesday. The Washington County clerk’s office issued 138 licenses, including 16 on Wednesday.

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