Arkansas Supreme Court stays ruling that nixed same-sex marriage ban

The Arkansas Supreme Court has granted a stay with the May 9 ruling by Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Chris Piazza that struck down Arkansas’ ban on same-sex marriage.

The stay effectively halts the issuance of marriage licenses for same-sex couples until an appeal of Piazza’s ruling is completed.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel requested a stay from the state’s high court after Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza apparently struck down Arkansas’ ban on same-sex marriages last Friday. Piazza said Amendment 83, which restricted marriage to one man and one woman, violated the U.S. Constitution.

A statement from the McDaniel’s office noted: “As this office stated in its pleadings, a stay prevents confusion and uncertainty until the Arkansas Supreme Court decides this matter on appeal. The Court today made the right decision to issue a stay, as other courts across the country have done in similar circumstances.”

McDaniel has been on record in support of same-sex marriage rights, but has said his duty as Arkansas’ attorney is to defend Amendment 83, which was approved by almost 75% of the Arkansans who voted in the 2004 general election.

The case challenges a statute passed in 1997 and a constitutional amendment to the Arkansas Constitution, approved by voters in 2004. Both exclude same-sex couples from marriage and forbid the state from recognizing same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.

The case, Wright v. Arkansas, is one of several Arkansas cases and resembles suits in other states. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia allow for same-sex marriages, while 33 states currently prohibit the practice.

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According to this report at Arkansas Times, plaintiffs’ attorney Jack Wagoner said he didn't take the stay as an indication of the court's leaning on a final decision. He added that he'll move ahead in a couple of weeks with pleadings in a federal lawsuit also challenging the state bans.

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