Arkansas ordered to recognise 500 ‘void’ same-sex marriages
Arkansas has been ordered to recognise the weddings of 500 same-sex couples, who married before a marriage ban was put back in place.
A judge stuck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage last May, allowing gay couples in the state to tie the knot.
However, weeks later after the state’s Attorney General appealed the ruling, a stay was put in place – re-enacting a law that banned the state from recognising same-sex unions, and throwing couples who had married in the meantime into legal limbo.
The state’s Republican administration has done its best to avoid all recognition of the marriages – but today judge Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen has ruled that the 500 licenses are valid.
The judge wrote: “With shameless disrespect for fundamental fairness and equality, (Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration Director Larry Walther) insists on treating the marriages of same-sex couples who received marriage licenses between May 9 and May 15 as ‘void from inception as a matter of law,'” Griffen wrote in his ruling.
Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge condemned the ruling, saying: “These marriages do not fall within the state’s definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.
“I am evaluating the ruling and will determine the best path forward to protect the state’s interest.”
However, with a national decision on same-sex marriage due from the US Supreme Court within weeks, it is unlikely the case will progress much further.
If as anticipated the highest court in the US rules that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, Rutledge would have little legal recourse available.