Arkansas Clerk Issues 1st Gay Marriage License
An Arkansas clerk issued the state’s first gay marriage license on Saturday, breaking a barrier that voters put in place with a constitutional amendment 10 years ago.
Carroll County Deputy Clerk Jane Osborn issued a license Saturday morning to Kristin Seaton, 27, and Jennifer Rambo, 26, of Fort Smith. They had slept in a Ford Focus after arriving in Eureka Springs at 2 a.m. Saturday and were the first of about 10 couples to line up outside of the courthouse before it opened.
When the license was issued, Rambo said, "Thank God." Seaton and Rambo, who have been together four years, then held a marriage ceremony on the courthouse steps. A woman in a rainbow dress officiated.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled Friday that Arkansas’ 2004 voter-approved amendment to the state constitution violates the rights of gay couples. He didn’t put his ruling on hold as some judges in other states have done. 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 morning when the license was issued.
Arkansas’ amendment was passed in 2004 with the overwhelming support of Arkansas voters. Piazza’s ruling also overturned a 1997 state law banning gay marriage. In striking down the ban, Piazza wrote that it is "an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality."