EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

May 11, 2014

Same-sex marriage comes to the Bible Belt

Gay couple waits all night to be first to tie knot in Arkansas

(Continued)

Piazza’s lack of a stay caused confusion among county clerks, Association of Arkansas Counties executive director Chris Villines said.

“The court didn’t give us any time to get the kinks worked out,” Villines said.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said he would appeal the ruling and asked it be suspended during that process. No appeal had been filed as of Saturday afternoon.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled that a law forbidding the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages was unconstitutional. Using language similar to that from the Supreme Court, state and federal judges nationwide have struck down other same-sex marriage bans — ruling against bans in Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Texas, and ordering Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

Arkansas’ amendment was passed in 2004 with the overwhelming support of Arkansas voters.

Jerry Cox, president of the Arkansas Family Council, which promoted Arkansas’ ban, said Piazza’s decision to not suspend his ruling will create confusion if a stay is issued.

“Are these people married? Are they unmarried?” Cox said. “Judge Piazza did a tremendous disservice to the people of Arkansas by leaving this in limbo.”

Arkansas’ ruling came a week after McDaniel became the first statewide elected official to announce he personally supports gay marriage rights, but would continue to defend the state’s ban in court.

Eureka Springs, an Ozark Mountain town of about 2,000, is known for its arts environment and liberal policies in the otherwise conservative northwest Arkansas — along with a 65-foot-tall statue of Jesus and a play about the last days of his life.

In 2007, the Eureka Springs City Council unanimously approved a proposal to create a domestic partner registry that took effect despite several failed efforts to defeat or outlaw the issue. The partnerships confer no special legal status.

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