Judge who struck down Arkansas gay marriage ban issues sweeping new ruling

Judge says that Arkansas has been denying same-sex couples the "same measure of human dignity, respect and recognition" granted heterosexuals.
By Frances Burns  |  May 15, 2014 at 4:06 PM
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark., May 15 (UPI) -- The judge who ruled that Arkansas' ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional threw out all state laws and regulations Thursday that have the same effect.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza rejected an argument by the state that a law is still in force, banning county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, because it wasn't included in his ruling last Friday. The state Supreme Court said that marriages should stop until the legal issue is clarified.

Piazza issued a ruling that says "all other state and local laws and regulations identified in plaintiff's complaint or otherwise in existence to the extent they do not recognize same-sex marriages."

While he was at it, the judge rejected a request for a stay.

Piazza is a state judge, but he found the amendment to the state constitution limiting marriage to the union of one man and one woman violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection guarantee.

Some counties began issuing licenses to gay couples over the weekend, while others have not issued any. Pulaski County, which includes Little Rock, issued its first at 8 a.m. Monday. County Clerk Larry Crane said he was ready to issue more within minutes of learning of the judge's new ruling.

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