Day Two: Gay Marriage In Washington County

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For gay couples, Tuesday (May 13) marks the second day marriage licenses are issued in Washington County. It's one of seven counties named in a marriage equality lawsuit that overturned a ban on same-sex marriage.

However, only Pulaski County and Washington County are issuing marriage licenses.

The first couple arrived from Fort Smith at 2:40 a.m. The courthouse opened at 7:30 a.m. but the clerk's office opened at 8 a.m.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel asked the state Supreme Court to issue a stay on Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza's ruling, which overturned Arkansas' 2004 same-sex marriage ban last Friday (May 9).

County Clerk Becky Lewallen said she's paying close attention to what could be decided by the state Supreme Court. She said she's been in contact with Washington County Attorney George Butler.

"He's the one that's advising me every step of the way," Lewallen said. "He's been real great to tell me, 'this is what you need to do because you are an A party in a lawsuit."

"I'm glad to have him advice me," she said.

If a stay is granted, it would temporarily stop gay couples from tying the knot. It would also give more time for the case to be appealed to a higher court.

State Sen. Bart Hester said, "Most of the time when a judge makes a ruling of this sort, they go ahead and put a self-imposed stay on it so both sides can be heard."

"I think that's what America is about, that's what Arkansas is about," Hester said. "We have a judicial system to work things out where both sides can be fairly heard."

On Monday, the largest crowd arrived before the doors opened. The Washington County Courthouse issued 23 licenses in the first half-hour. By the end of the day, 84 marriage licenses were issued.

Lewallen said at first their software wasn't equipped to do same-sex marriages. The marriage certificates had "Mr." and "Mrs.," which was changed, she said. The clerk's office also took "bride" and "groom" off of the application and placed "spouse 1" and "spouse 2."

As of noon Tuesday (May 13), there had been 30 same-sex marriage certificates issued in Washington County, according to clerk's office.


  • Kevin

    I wish the g*ys would wake up and realize they are being used as a tool to destroy the traditional family in america and divide the nation. Do you really think that this judge made this ruling out the blue for “human rights”? The government only does things for power and votes.

    • Bossfella

      You’re right. An appointed judge in a red state overturned a ban on homosexual marriage for votes.

    • mark

      geez kevin you must be a very important person of power & influence to be the one deciding who destroys family values and what those values are, and how they “divide” the nation.
      making decisions like that about people who present no harm to you or your civil rights is a very presumptuous & self righteous position. let’s be sure our own shower stall is clean before we start hurling statements like yours….. have a nice day my friend :-)

  • Sarah 1

    I think this station is censoring comments.

    Who cares who marries whom? If it isn’t your spouse, why stick your nose into someones else business.

    It doesn’t rub off or it isn’t contagious like the flu. Grow up people.

  • Keith Pullman

    There is no good reason to deny that we must keep evolving until an adult, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, monogamy or polyamory, race, or religion is free to marry any and all consenting adults. The limited same-gender freedom to marry is a great and historic step, but is NOT full marriage equality, because equality “just for some” is not equality. Let’s stand up for EVERY ADULT’S right to marry the person(s) they love. Get on the right side of history!

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