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Some Arkansas counties issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples

Some county officials in Arkansas holding off on same-sex weddings following judge's ruling that the state's ban is unconstitutional.
By Frances Burns   |   May 12, 2014 at 10:53 AM  |  Updated May 12, 2014 at 11:11 AM   |   Comments

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark., May 12 (UPI) -- Two women who met at Southern Arkansas University in the 1980s became the first same-sex couple to be married in Little Rock early Monday.

Shelly Butler, 51, and Susan Barr, 48, were the first of dozens of couples in line at the Pulaski County Clerk's office. They were the first to hand in their application for a marriage certificate and tied the knot seconds later, as others in the line applauded.

Circuit Judge Christopher Piazza, who sits in Little Rock, ruled Friday that the Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution. While Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane updated the software for marriage licenses and was ready to accept applications from same-sex couples at 8 a.m. Monday, other county clerks took a wait-and-see attitude.

Carroll County, in northwestern Arkansas on the Missouri border, began issuing same-sex marriage licenses Saturday. In Faulkner County north of Little Rock, however, County Attorney David Hogue said Sunday that he does not believe Piazza's ruling binds other counties, and that only the state Supreme Court can make a decision striking down the ban for all of Arkansas.

In Little Rock, about 25 couples were waiting at the clerk's office by 6 a.m.

"Today means the world," Butler told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "It's a long time coming."

Mark Norwine, 51, and Jonathan Grober, 35, who were two of the plaintiffs in the legal fight, wept as they were married soon after Butler and Barr. The couple have been partners for a decade and said they expected to have to wait for appeals.

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