Speed Reads

Gay marriage

Arkansas judge strikes down state's gay marriage ban

AP Photo/Danny Johnston

Saying Arkansas had "no rational reason" to prevent gay couples from marrying, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza struck down a 2004 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage late on Friday.

"This is an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality," Piazza wrote in a decision reported by The Associated Press. "The exclusion of a minority for no rational reason is a dangerous precedent."

Arkansas courthouses are not normally open on weekends, and clerks' offices contacted by the AP said they were not yet prepared to issue marriage licenses. Still, Piazza did not put his ruling on hold, meaning that even as the state's attorney general appeals the decision, couples could apply for marriage licenses as early as Monday.

State Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has said that while he personally supports gay marriage, he will defend the state's constitutional ban in court.

UPDATE: Carroll County Deputy Clerk Jane Osborn issued Arkansas' first gay marriage license this morning, to Kristin Seaton and Jennifer Rambo of Fort Smith. Most Arkansas courthouses remain closed on Saturdays, but the clerks' office at Eureka Springs often opens to issue marriage licenses.