Ruling Overturning Same Sex Marriage Ban Given On Friday Leads To Confusion

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A Pulaski County judge’s ruling last Friday allowing same sex marriages is causing some confusion among Arkansas counties, as some choose to recognize the ruling and other county officials say it does not apply to them.

Eighty-four same sex couples received marriage licenses Monday from Washington County, but other counties such as Benton and Sebastian counties are not issuing same sex marriage licenses because their officials said the Pulaski County ruling may not have jurisdiction in their own counties.

State Attorney General Dustin McDaniel on Monday asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to issue a stay on same sex marriage licenses while the issue is cleared up, causing some confusion across the state. The judge’s ruling reversed a 2004 statute prohibiting same sex marriage in Arkansas.

“Most of the time when a judge makes a ruling of this sort, they do it and they go ahead and put a self-imposed stay on it so both sides can be heard, and I think that’s what America’s about. That’s what Arkansas is about,” said state Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs). “We have a judicial system to work things out like this where both sides can be fairly heard.”

Hester said he believes the judge’s ruling late Friday, just before the weekend, was not in the best interest of the people.

He said allowing marriage licenses before the state Supreme Court weighs in could put county officials and same sex couples in compromising positions. If the Supreme Court issues a stay on the judge’s ruling, Hester said no one knows what will happen with the marriage licenses that have already been handed out.

“Once the Supreme Court makes their ruling, it’s going to be very difficult for all parties involved,” Hester said. “The U.S. Constitution said that’s for each state to decide, and we as a state have decided.”

Pastor Tom Hatley said he is not supportive of the recent ruling.

“That was a way of getting around the law, and people without integrity have to go around the law because they can’t go through the law,” the pastor said. “We don’t hate anybody. Everybody’s welcome here. We don’t hate them. We don’t even get to set the rules.”

Hatley said although his church Immanuel Baptist does not turn anyone away, church officials views on the issue are not likely to change.

“It’s a very important and foundational truth to society, but especially to those who believe in the Bible,” he said.


  • soonerfan

    Did the voters of Arkansas not vote on this? And one Judge over ruled the majority of the people? How does that happen in America?

    • Bossfella

      That’s kind of the purpose of judges. And the entire judiciary branch, actually. Somebody has to enforce the Constitution.

      • Elaphas

        Enforce the Constitution? Tell us where in this document does it allow homosexuals to marry. Enlighten us. If you really knew anything about the three branches of the federal government (which you obviously don’t) you would know that the three branches are “equal” and that one judge does not have the power to force his decisions on the people without going back to the legislative branch should he/she claim a law passed by the people to be unconstitutional. Where are the checks and balances? This is up to the states to decide and Arkansas’s people have spoken by a large majority. His ruling is what is unconstitutional. He should be removed from office.

      • Bossfella

        You mean by the AG filing a stay on the ruling, which he did yesterday? You mean those kinds of checks and balances? The courts exist to accept or strike down existing laws. If they find a law to be in unconstitutional, as this ban is, it is their job to rule it as so. They do not go back to the legislation and ask them to try again. Unconstitutional is unconstitutional.

        And where does the Constitution allow homosexuals to marry? Fourteenth Amendment. Equal protection under the law.

      • HL

        They already had equal protection under the law. Homosexuals are bound by the same marriage laws as heterosexuals.

    • Kris

      I don’t know how a little county judge has the power to overturn what the people have said. That should only take place in the states highest court.

  • David Adkins

    Yeah, and the voters of Arkansas were for slavery in the 1800s, for segregation in the 50s, and against interracial marriage in the 60s. Sometimes the rights of the minority must be protected from oppression from the majority.

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