Arkansas Supreme Court Stays County Judge’s Marriage Equality Order

Kristin Seaton and Jennifer Rambo were the first couple wed in Arkansas. | KENDALL WRIGHT/ COURTESY: FREEDOM TO MARRY

After a week in which hundreds of same-sex couples married in Arkansas and legal action moved back and forth between a county circuit judge and the state’s high court, the Arkansas Supreme Court has issued a stay on the county judge’s May 9 marriage equality order, allowing time for the legal issues to play out on appeal.

Late in the day on May 16, the Supreme Court, in a brief order, granted motions by the state and by several county clerks asking for a stay on Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Charles Piazza’s ruling, which he himself had declined to stay.

Though many same-sex couples rushed to take advantage of the window to marry, some counties declined to issue such licenses pending word on a stay. The first licenses were issued on Saturday, May 10 in the Ozarks resort town of Eureka Springs in Carroll County. On Monday, May 12, Pulaski County, the state’s largest and home to Little Rock, the capital, first issued licenses. According to the Arkansas Times, most of the reported 500 licenses were issued there.

A day before the Arkansas stay, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals put a temporary stay on a May 13 federal district court ruling that ordered Idaho to issue same-sex marriage licenses. No licenses had yet been issued there.

A federal district judge will issue a ruling on a marriage equality lawsuit against the State of Oregon on May 19. The state has indicated it will not appeal a pro-equality ruling there.