Arkansas AG: Unclear Whether JPs Must Officiate Gay Weddings

Aug 5, 2015

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge speaking in March during an appearance on Talk Business & Politics.
Credit Talk Business & Politics

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says it's unclear whether courts would require county justices of the peace to officiate same-sex weddings, even though clerks are required to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

The Republican attorney general said in an advisory opinion issued Wednesday that JPs could use the state's new religious objections law as a defense if they refused to preside over a gay wedding ceremony. But she said it's unclear whether such a defense would prevail in court.

Rutledge noted that JPs are authorized to officiate over weddings, but it's not a required part of their duties as elected officials.

Rutledge in June told county clerks they're required to issue licenses to same-sex couples after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide.