Same-Sex Marriage in Arkansas

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Sarah Whites-Koditschek

A state representative who opposed a religious conscience bill says increased preferences for LGBT people may be added in the next legislative session if religious rights for clergy are clarified. 

Leslie Rutledge Attorney General
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.

A member of the Arkansas Supreme Court says justices had voted on a narrow part of the appeal over gay marriage shortly before the nation's highest court legalized same-sex marriages.

Justice Rhonda Wood said Thursday that justices had voted in June on a state-specific portion of Pulaski County Judge Chris Piazza's May 2014 decision striking down Arkansas' gay marriage ban. Wood said the vote focused on Piazza's ruling that voters can't approve an amendment that conflicts with other rights guaranteed in the constitution.

Eureka Springs
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A new state law takes effect Wednesday that prohibits Arkansas cities and counties from enacting anti-discrimination measures that are not covered in state law. But a challenge is expected as Eureka Springs city leaders say they will continue enforcing a local ordinance that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Three same-sex couples have sued Arkansas health officials for not allowing both spouses to be named on their children's birth certificates.

The three lesbian couples sued the Department of Health on Monday in Pulaski County Circuit Court and said they were told they would have to obtain a court order to name both parents on their children's birth certificates. The couples asked to have both parents listed on the birth certificates following last month's U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

Nearly a week after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that states must recognize and issue same-sex marriage licenses, most Arkansas county clerks are complying. KUAR conducted a brief survey of clerks offices on the number of same-sex or gender-neutral licenses issued in the state's 10 most populous counties.

A marriage ceremony being performed in the Pulaski County Courthouse in May 2014.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

At least two Arkansas counties have not issued same-sex marriage licenses as clerks with religious objections struggle to comply with state and federal orders.

Cleburne and Randolph county officials said Wednesday that they haven't had gay couples seek licenses, but it's unclear if any such request would be granted.

The Cleburne County clerk resigned Tuesday after voicing objections to Friday's Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. County Judge Jerry Holmes says it's unclear if deputy clerks will issue licenses to gay couples.

same-sex marriage license
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A county clerk in Arkansas plans to resign effective June 30 because of a moral objection to issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

Cleburne County Clerk Dana Guffey said Monday she has notified the county judge of her plans to resign. She says she has a moral objection to issuing the marriage licenses following Friday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriages nationwide. She said the decision to leave the post after 24 years was not made out of hate.

Office officials say no same-sex marriage licenses had been issued as of Monday afternoon.

same-sex marriage 6-26-15
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

Same-sex couples are getting married in Arkansas after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling Friday that state same-sex  marriage bans are unconstitutional. 

The 5-to-4 decision has LGBT people in Arkansas rejoicing and state conservative groups lambasting the decision.

same-sex marriage Jennifer Rambo (middle) and her wife, Kriston Seaton
Jacqueline Froelich / KUAF

Despite a judge’s ruling last week that same-sex marriages conducted last year in Arkansas must be legally recognized, many of those couples report being frustrated by bureaucratic obstacles so far. 

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