Thursday, May 15, 2014

Footnote to Earlier Posting: Arkansas Judge Clarifies Ruling Striking Down Ban on Same-Sex Marriage, Marriages Resume

A quick footnote to my posting this morning which noted that the county in which Steve and I married on Monday, Pulaski County, had stopped issuing licenses to gay couples today while legal wrinkles were ironed out of the process:

It's being reported by the local news right now (here's Max Brantley at Arkansas Times) that Circuit Judge Chris Piazza, who struck down the ban on same-sex marriage last Friday, has now issued a clarification stating that his ruling last Friday was intended to strike down the state's statutory ban on same-sex marriage, as well as a specific statute addressing county clerks and their obligations. It's the latter on which the many clerks around the state have been relying as a technicality — a straw eagerly grasped at — as they refuse to issue licenses to same-sex couples. 

Meanwhile, as Max Brantley also reports in the article to which the link right above points, one of our tea-party legislators, Jason Rapert, is trying to raise hell in cahoots with various pastors and "faith-based" groups, and is going to stage a media stunt tomorrow morning as the Arkansas Legislative Council meets. He wants to get that body to condemn Judge Piazza's ruling and make a statement in support of the 2004 ban on gay marriage.

As one of the respondents to Max Brantley's article, someone with the username outlier, says in the thread below the article, stunts like Rapert's or the attempt of the state to obtain a stay of same-sex marriages are costing the taxpayers of our state, which is at the bottom of the economic rung of American states, a lot of money that might be well spent in many other ways. This is something that very much perturbed me when religious right groups pushed through a ban on adoption by unmarried couples in 2008, as they sought to throw red meat to anti-gay Republican voters to drive them to the polls to vote in the 2008 elections.

Anyone with much sense at all knew that this ban, which was wildly popular in almost every part of Arkansas, was unconstitutional and would be struck down, and so it was, in 2011 when our state Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional. By that time, though, scads of money had been wasted on all this nonsense.

As I've noted on this blog before, I've never quite gotten over my pique with a number of my cousins who signed the petition to place this initiated act on the ballot in 2008. A first cousin of mine who's a Southern Baptist minister signed the petition, as did his wife, and the wife of another first cousin who's also a Southern Baptist minister did the same, along with a number of other cousins of mine. Relations between them and me have been strained, to say the least, at family gatherings since that time, because they showed their hand in a decisive public way, telling me and everyone like me in our state just what they think of us and our contributions to the common good — and wasting the money of all Arkansas taxpayers as they pursued an anti-gay vendetta that was, in the final analysis, about partisan politics more than anything else.

Pulaski County has now resumed issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after Judge Piazza clarified his ruling this morning. It remains to be seen if clerks in other counties will respect the ruling. I expect a large percentage to continue to run in circles, scream and shout, bibles clasped in their hands.

The photo is one we took this past Monday as people waited in the Pulaski County courthouse to obtain marriage licenses and then to return their marriages and obtain a marriage certificate.

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