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Arkansas Supreme Court ruling halts issuing of same-sex marriage licenses

[JURIST] The Arkansas Supreme Court [official website] issued an unsigned order [text, PDF] Thursday declining to put on hold a ruling that overturned the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriages. The court however, ruled that the the circuit court's order had no effect on Ark. Code Ann. § 9-11-208(b) [AP report] and its prohibition against circuit and county clerks issuing same-sex marriage license, effectively preventing same-sex couples from obtaining marriage licenses in the state. Last week Judge Chris Piazza for Arkansas' Pulaski County Circuit Court [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that the state's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, striking down both the Arkansas General Assembly Act 144 of 1997 and the 2004 Amendment 83 of the Arkansas State Constitution [text, PDF]. According to the Associated Press, after the circuit court's decision last Friday, clerks in five counties issued [AP report] marriage licenses to 456 same-sex couples in Arkansas. The 456 couples issued licenses will still be able to get married. The State's 70 other counties chose not to issue same-sex marriage licenses until the State Supreme Court has ruled on the issue.

Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most hotly debated topics in the legal community today. Earlier this week a judge for the US District Court for the District of Idaho [official website] struck down [JURIST report] Idaho's laws banning same-sex marriage. Also this week five same-sex couples filed a lawsuit challenging Alaska's same-sex marriage ban [JURIST report]. Last week Indiana was ordered to recognize [JURIST report] an out-of-state same-sex marriage pending an appeal. A challenge is expected to South Dakota's same-sex marriage ban, leaving North Dakota and Montana as the only states [TIME report] whose same-sex marriage bans have not been challenged in court.

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