The County Clerk of Benton County will not issue marriage licenses to same sex couples pending being ordered to do so by a court, according to a news release.
If the law requires it, the County Clerk will issue the licenses, the release states. Until a court having jurisdiction over the County Clerk of Benton County makes a determination similar to that made by the Pulaski County Circuit Court, Amendment 83 remains binding in Benton County and will be respected, the release states.
The County Clerk of Benton County’s decision follows a ruling by a Pulaski County judge on Friday that struck down Arkansas’ same-sex marriage ban, saying the “hatred and fears” of previous years have vanished concerning prohibited marriages.
Judge Chris Piazza delivered the ruling in the case of Wright vs. Arkansas, which challenged the state statute passed in 1997 and placed into the Arkansas Constitution. The statute, which was approved by voters in 2004, prohibited same-sex couples from marrying and forbid the state from recognizing same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, according to a statement released Friday by the Human Rights Campaign.
In his ruling, Piazza referenced a past civil rights case involving Mildred Loving, a black woman who was imprisoned for marrying a white man.
“It has been over 40 years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice. The hatred and fears have long since vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together,” Piazza wrote in his ruling. “So it will be for the same-sex couples. It is time to let that beacon of freedom shine brighter on all our brothers and sisters.”