Supreme Court Halts Same-Sex Marriages In State
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[May 17, 2014]
By Steve Barnes
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (Reuters) - The
Arkansas Supreme Court on Friday halted the issuing of marriage licenses
to same-sex couples in the first and only state in the U.S. South to
allow gay marriage.
About 500 gay and lesbian couples have married since a state judge
last week overturned the Arkansas ban on same-sex unions. The state
attorney general's office had requested the stay to stop counties
from issuing licenses and also appealed the decision that struck
down the state's gay marriage ban.
The Supreme Court issued the stay in a brief, unsigned order,
without elaborating on its reasoning.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza of Little Rock, the
state's capital, ruled on May 9 that Arkansas' constitutional and
statutory prohibitions against same-sex marriage violated U.S. and
state guarantees of equal protection.
Same-sex advocates praised Piazza's decision, saying allowing gay
marriages in Arkansas marked a dramatic change in the South, where
every state has a law on its books banning the unions.
Six of Arkansas 75 county clerks were named as defendants in the
case challenging the gay marriage ban. Among them was Pulaski, the
most populous, which encompasses Little Rock and issued the majority
of the same-sex marriage licenses.
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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; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; editing by
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