Arkansas Supreme Court Halts Marriage Equality In Obscure Ruling


The Arkansas Supreme Court

The Arkansas Supreme Court

The Arkansas Supreme Court

The Arkansas Supreme Court issued a ruling Wednesday afternoon that seems to halt, at least temporarily, the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses in the state. The ruling rests on numerous technicalities and questions that need to be cleared up by the trial court.

Though the Supreme Court ruled against issuing a stay in Friday’s marriage equality ruling — which suggests at first glance that marriages continue — the Court also concluded that because one of the statutes that limits the issuing of same-sex marriages was missing from the decision, it is still in effect. Thus, a stay is not required because the Court seems to be suggesting that the decision should not have allowed marriages to begin in the first place — if only because of the technicality that the statute was not addressed.

That technicality was one of the reasons several counties did not begin issuing licenses or began but then stopped. As of Wednesday, two counties, Washington and Pulaski, were still issuing licenses. Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane told the Arkansas Times that because of the new Supreme Court ruling, it’s his understanding that he still needs to be abiding by the unmentioned statute, “which means that in all likelihood at 8 a.m. in the morning, we will not be issuing licenses.”

Jack Wagoner, attorney for the couples who brought suit, promised that he will return to court Thursday to address the oversight, telling the Arkansas Times, “How can you find something unconstitutional but not affect a statute that would require the clerks to do something unconstitutional?” Until Judge Chris Piazza issues a clarifying final order, marriages will likely not continue — and the fate of the 400 same-sex couples who’ve already married this week will hang in the balance.