The highest court in the US state of Arkansas has suspended a judge’s ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.
The latest ruling halts the distribution of licences that have been issued to hundreds of gay couples.
The state Supreme Court on Friday granted a request to suspend a lower court’s decision voiding a 2004 constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza last week struck down the ban, but expanded that ruling on Thursday to include all state laws preventing gay couples from marrying.
Attorney-General Dustin McDaniel and four counties named in the lawsuit asked justices to stay Piazza’s ruling while it’s on appeal aying it would lead to confusion among Arkansas’ 75 counties.
More than 450 same-sex couples received marriage licences since Piazza’s ruling last week. Only Pulaski and two other counties began issuing licences to same-sex couples on Friday.
Seventeen other states allow gay marriage. Judges have struck down bans in Idaho, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Virginia. But in Idaho, plans for same-sex marriages to begin Friday were put on hold as the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals considered whether the governor and attorney general should have more time to file an appeal a judge’s ruling overturning its state ban.
The Arkansas Supreme Court had denied a request Wednesday to stay Piazza’s initial ruling, but still effectively halted same-sex weddings by also noting that a separate law prohibiting clerks from issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples was still on the books.
Piazza revised his order on Thursday, saying no one in the state was harmed by the marriage licences issued to same-sex couples. He rejected the state’s request to put his decision on hold, saying gay couples would be harmed by that action.
Pulaski County resumed issuing same-sex marriage licences immediately after Piazza’s ruling Thursday, while Washington County began issuing them again Friday morning.