LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Attorneys for a group of same-sex couples asked an Arkansas judge on Thursday to clarify whether he intended to strike down all of the state’s laws prohibiting same-sex marriage when he voided the state’s ban last week.
The attorneys asked Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza to expand his ruling, a day after the state’s highest court noted that a law prohibiting clerks from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples was still in effect.
In this ruling last Friday, Piazza nullified the ban that voters placed in the state constitution and a separate state law barring same-sex marriages. But he didn’t rule on a separate law that regulates the conduct of county clerks, which threatens fines if they issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The state’s high court on Wednesday declined to stay Piazza’s ruling, but offered no direction to the county clerks, who knew before the ruling came out that guidance for clerks was still on the books.
Article continues belowThey had wanted to know what to do with the conflicting findings: the gay marriage ban is unconstitutional, but clerks aren’t authorized to do anything about it.
“County clerks have been uncertain about their responsibilities and couples unable to know definitively whether their marriage will remain valid,” said Aaron Sadler, a spokesman for Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. “A stay issued by either the Supreme Court or Judge Piazza would have brought some certainty.
More than 450 marriage licenses had been issued to same-sex couples following Piazza’s ruling, but the two counties that had been issuing them Wednesday said they would stop after the Supreme Court decision.
Developing story, check back for updates.
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