Gay couples marry in Little Rock; AG seeks stay

One judge married three couples in the first hour after the clerk's office opened
Associated Press
May 12, 2014


Dozens of gay couples, some of whom waited in line overnight, received licenses to marry from county clerks Monday, while lawyers for the state of Arkansas asked its highest court to suspend an order gutting a constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage.

"When we heard the news in Arkansas, we had to jump in the car to get here," 51-year-old Shelly Butler of Dallas said shortly before receiving the first license in Little Rock, the state's largest city. Butler met her partner, 48-year-old Susan Barr, at Southern Arkansas University in 1985. They arrived at the courthouse at 6:30 a.m. and were allowed to go to the front of the line because Butler has muscular dystrophy and is in a wheelchair.

"I am just in shock, I think. You go from being so private and hidden to such a public display of commitment. It's just so nice," Barr said.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza tossed out Arkansas' gay marriage ban after business hours Friday, setting up Monday's run on courthouses in Little Rock and Fayetteville as same-sex marriage arrived in the Bible Belt. As he arrived at work Monday, Piazza walked up to a colleague performing same-sex weddings in the courthouse rotunda and shook his hand. Piazza declined to talk to reporters.

"I have already spoken my opinion," Piazza said.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who recently said he supported gay marriage but would defend the ban, filed paperwork Monday morning formally asking the state Supreme Court to temporarily set aside Piazza's ruling that had made Arkansas — at least for now — the 18th state in the nation to allow same-sex marriages.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled that a law forbidding the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages was unconstitutional. Federal judges have ruled against marriage bans in Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Texas, and ordered Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

In Fayetteville, the home of the University of Arkansas, clerks issued 23 licenses to same-sex couples Monday morning and one to a heterosexual couple. The women who work in the office used White-Out to correct the documents' formatting where necessary.

"On our licenses, it automatically prints 'Mr.' and I told the girls just to change that to 'Ms.'" Washington County Clerk Becky Lewallen said.

Fifteen same-sex couples received licenses in Eureka Springs on Saturday, but outside Carroll County, clerks in many of the state's other 74 counties said they wanted further guidance from a higher court.

"With all due respect to the Third Division Circuit Court of Pulaski County, a circuit court does not establish or strike down statewide law," Faulkner County Attorney David Hogue said in a statement Sunday. "That would be the role of the State Supreme Court."

Carroll County deputy clerks who had granted licenses to same-sex couples Saturday said Monday they had resumed granting licenses only to heterosexual couples and referred calls to Clerk Jamie Correia, who couldn't immediately be reached.

Marion County, home to a large number of retirees, granted one license to a same-sex couple Monday, and Saline County, home to two conservative Little Rock suburbs, said it would if anyone asked. No one had by midday.

Pulaski County drew one protester.

"Marriage is between a male and female. ... These are the words of the almighty God. Woe unto you, said the Lord," Larry O. Walker shouted outside the courthouse.

Thomas Baldwin, 37, and Devin Rudeseal, 24, of Bryant, were the second pair to receive a same-sex marriage license in Little Rock. They married quickly because Rudeseal planned to take a final exam at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock later Monday morning.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, whom Piazza met on his way into the courthouse, said he married three couples in the first hour after the clerk's office opened.

"It's the right thing to do. I am a minister. I am a judge. I am ordained to celebrate commitments in marriages and I have believed for a long time that my faith compels," Griffen said. "This is the love of God joining with the love of people."


thinkagain's picture

You can choose to be abnormal, if you want to, that is a choice.

“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another”


I agree, it's a choice. Not sure why it would be considered abnormal, if God created them that way. Due to research over the past 20-30 years, we now have scientific proof that sexual orientation is not a choice.

I'm not really interested in what the Bible has to say on the subject, anyway, since it was written 2000 years ago by people who had literally zero understanding of how things actually work. These were people who thought the sun revolved around the Earth. The Bible also prescribes death for anyone who has a tattoo, death for anyone who (gasp!) wears 2 different fabrics simultaneously, and for children who disobey their parents. We no longer accept those scriptures, because we know better. It's time for fundamentalist Christians to discard ancient beliefs on sexuality that we now know to be incorrect.

thinkagain's picture

Your logic is invalid. If it is a choice, then God did not create them that way.

As far as your misinformed interpretation that the Mosaic Law is applicable to Christians, that is equally fallacious.

Should you require further elucidation, I would be happy to oblige. But then you wouldn't have an excuse to spew such nonsense in the future...


Like you choose to be an abnormal bigot, it's your choice.


As citizens they have the same rights as anyone else, End of story. Meanwhile in lib land they are openly catering to NON-citizens.
Still think the Progressive Democrats care about American citizens?


Donegan: Your post is misleading. When Democrats try to help immigrants to gain citizenship and/or education, that doesn't mean they don't care about the rest of the country. We're just able to care about people outside of our immediate family, which I know Republicans don't quite understand.

We Dems quite obviously DO care about American citizens, which is why we are in favor of raising the minimum wage, equal rights for the LGBT community, getting the 1% to pay their fair share of taxes, and a host of other issues that benefit everyday Americans like you and me.

The real question is: why don't Republicans support those issues? Why do they say they care about the middle class and the poor, yet continually vote against things that would obviously help the middle class & poor?

We can either help immigrants become educated and to gain citizenship, or we can continue to subsidize their existence, since they won't make enough to otherwise survive. Which do you think will cost us more money in the short term and long run?

Mayor Emanuel's proposal helps those people assume a personal stake in their future. Sounds like a pretty good idea to me, and since you conservatives are always whining about "personal responsibility" and "people who are takers and live off the system", can I assume that you agree with me?


You might also add, "We Dems do not take the time to think things through nor do we ever consider what unintended consequences might stem from our actions." If you really did care about American citizens, you would want them off government support and into supporting themselves. Instead, you keep wanting to repeat worthless tactics in the hopes that this time, things will be different. One constant about you people is you never learn.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

What is a "fair share" of taxes?


Guess you haven't been to that liberal Utopia named Chicago. Poverty is rampant, Drugs and crime are too. Don't you think instead of worrying about people who legally need deported getting jobs that they could maybe help someone out of the ghetto? Nah that is beyond your thinking. You would just add MORE people to that crime ridden hole the Democrats have created. If they are here illegally deport them, problem solved.
You really cannot blame anything that happens in Chicago on your opposition, They have not had a voice there in decades.
Wanna know why the 1% doesn't pay their "Fair share? 1, What is fair to you is communism to others and 2nd, Those who write the tax laws YOU elect ARE THE 1%.

From the Grave

Those chicks aren't as hot as the ones in the other artilce, so now I'm having second thoughts about gay marriage...