1st Gay Marriage License Issued in Little Rock
Couples lined up before dawn Monday outside Little Rock’s courthouse as the state’s largest county began issuing gay marriage licenses following a judge’s ruling overturning Arkansas’ constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
The Pulaski County clerk’s office issued its first same-sex marriage license shortly after 8 a.m. After business hours closed Friday, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled that Arkansas’ voter-approved ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. Piazza did not issue a stay, and 15 same-sex couples obtained marriage licenses Saturday in the left-leaning tourist town of Eureka Springs.
The first Little Rock license went to Shelly Butler, 51, and Susan Barr, 48, of Dallas, who have been together since they met at Southern Arkansas University in 1985.
"When we heard the news in Arkansas, we had to jump in the car to get here," Butler said shortly before receiving the license. "I’m just excited to marry my best friend of almost 30 years, finally."
The second couple to receive a license was Thomas Baldwin, 37, and Devin Rudeseal, 24. The Bryant couple quickly married in the courthouse, and Rudeseal planned to take a final at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock later Monday morning.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who recently said he supported gay marriage but would defend the ban, has asked Piazza to suspend his ruling. McDaniel said Saturday that he wants the state Supreme Court to take up the matter, but no appeal had been filed as of Monday morning.