Arkansas: Judge Orders The State To Recognize Same-Sex Marriages Performed Last Year

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen issued a ruling today instructing Arkansas state officials to recognize same-sex marriages that were performed in-state last year during a window of time that marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples.

The result of the order means those 500+ couples will have access to many benefits such as filing taxes jointly and enrolling in state health insurance plans.

From ABC News:

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza struck down as unconstitutional a 2004 voter-approved same-sex marriage ban and an earlier state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Justices suspended his decision a week later, halting the marriages.

The attorney general’s office argued before Griffen Monday that the marriages weren’t valid because Piazza’s initial ruling didn’t specifically strike down a state law barring clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Piazza struck down that law in a subsequent ruling six days later.

Griffen rejected that argument, saying it was clear that Piazza meant to strike down any prohibition on same-sex marriage.

“Put simply, Judge Piazza’s intent in his May 9 order was to stop the state of Arkansas from prohibiting same-sex couples from being married,” he wrote.

HRC Arkansas State Director Kendra R. Johnson issued this statement:

“Virtually every day, we continue to see tremendous signs of progress toward realizing the dream of marriage equality for gay and lesbian Arkansans.

“While we await a final decision by the United States Supreme Court to resolve the issue of marriage equality nationwide once and for all, Judge Griffen’s ruling demonstrates yet again the unmistakable momentum of LGBT equality in the Natural State.”