Top Court Leaves In Place Decision Allowing Gay Marriage
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[May 15, 2014]
By Steve Barnes
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (Reuters) - The
Arkansas Supreme Court on Wednesday left in place a lower court ruling
that struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, ruling that the
state's petition was prematurely filed.
"The (trial) court's order is not final, and we have no
jurisdiction to hear the appeal," the Supreme Court said in a
seven-page filing, adding the matter should be taken up by the
county court that made the judgment last week.
On Friday, Pulaski Circuit Court Judge Chris Piazza of Little Rock
voided the state's statutory and constitutional bans on same-sex
marriage, declaring them in violation of the U.S. and Arkansas
constitutions' guarantees of due process and equal treatment.
More than 400 gay and lesbian couples have since married in
Arkansas, the first Southern state to permit such unions.
Arkansas attorney general Dustin McDaniel had asked the court to
stay Piazza's order pending the state's appeal, which would put a
halt on the marriages.
Larry Crane, the court clerk for Pulaski County, the state's most
populous county that includes Little Rock, said the county would
likely suspend issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples from
Thursday. Almost all of the marriage licenses in Arkansas were
issued in Pulaski county.
"It appears to me and my legal counsel that in today's ruling the
Court is saying, 'You need to hold off on this.' So the tentative
decision is that we won't be issuing (same-sex) marriage licenses at
8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning," Crane told Reuters.
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"I would anticipate counsel for the plaintiffs would seek to have
Judge Piazza amend his ruling," he added.
Seventeen states plus the District of Columbia allow same-sex
couples to marry. That number would increase sharply if federal
court rulings striking down bans in several states are upheld on
(Reporting by Steve Barnes; Editing by Jon Herskovitz, Mohammad
Zargham and Ken Wills)
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