Gay couples in Arkansas who didn't get marriage licenses in the past week won't be able to when county offices open today, after the state Supreme Court noted that the judge who struck down a same-sex marriage ban last week failed to also overturn relevant aspects of a separate state law that threatens fines for county clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, In an unsigned order, the justices refused to put the ruling by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza on hold. But even though they rejected the state's request to suspend the ruling, their order will still prevent any other same-sex couples from getting marriage licenses in Arkansas, at least for now.
"In our opinion, it's not that they denied the stay or issued a stay, when they kinda, I guess, kicked the can down the road," says a man who married his male partner in Little Rock earlier this week. After the ruling last Friday, clerks in five of the state's 75 counties responded by issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. By yesterday evening, 456 gay couples in Arkansas had received permission to marry, according to an AP canvass of county clerks. Couples that already have licenses can still get married, and lawyers for gay couples say Piazza can fix the problem by simply incorporating broader language when he files a final order. In Idaho, meanwhile, the first same-sex marriages could take place as soon as tomorrow after a ruling striking down the state's gay marriage ban. (Read more Arkansas stories.)