Washington County Will Perform Same Sex Marriages; Benton County Will Not

Following a ruling by Pulaski Circuit Court Judge Chris Piazza, Washington County is one of seven counties in Arkansas that are required by law to give same sex marriage licenses.

These counties are obligated because they were listed as defendants in the original court case of Wright vs. Arkansas.

Justice of the Peace Eva Madison said she will be at the courthouse at 8 a.m. officiating same sex marriages.

“I hope it’s an exciting day,” Madison said, “I hope that people who have waited a very long time for equality finally get it.”

She said until a stay comes into play and licenses can no longer be issued, she will be marrying as many couples as she can.

Madison said she has married over 100 couples and never imagined this day would come.

“I look at my friends that are gay and say I wish someday I could do it for you, and hopefully tomorrow will be that day,” Madison said.

Local Brett Doyel said he was raised in a religious household and he isn’t a proponent of same sex marriage.

“That’s just not how I was raised, so I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman,” Doyel said.

Debra Duree has friends who are in same sex relationships and said she has witnessed them leave Arkansas because of discrimination.

“It’s been a very long time coming,” Duree said, “And I’m so excited that it has finally happened here, so that we can keep so many wonderful people in our home town, in our state.”

Madison said in order to get married, the couple needs to bring photo IDs and $60 in cash. She said they have to get the license from the county clerk, and then have an officiate sign the paper for it to become legal.

She said for those who were married in Carroll County on Saturday, the couples may have an issue with the legality of their marriage if the stay issued states those will be voided.

The Washington County Courthouse opens its doors at 7:30 a.m. Monday. The County Clerk’s Office will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Benton County was not one of the seven counties listed in the original lawsuit. The County Clerk’s office issued a statement Saturday that they would not be giving marriage licenses to same sex couples.

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