LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas’ whirlwind week of granting of marriage licenses to same-sex couples ended Friday when the state Supreme Court ordered a temporary stop just as a final pair completed their paperwork at a Little Rock courthouse.
More than 540 gay couples received marriage licenses during the last week after a Pulaski County circuit judge declared the state’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. Hilda Jones and Kerin Hartsell, who drove 2½ hours from Chidester, were the last couple to receive a license just downstairs from Judge Chris Piazza’s courtroom.
‘‘When we got there and the lady said you have six minutes, we were like, ‘Oh my gosh!'’’ Jones said. They rushed to fill out an application for a marriage license and wed moments later. ‘‘Today happened to be the day we both could get off work and get up here, and we barely made it.’’
Piazza’s ruling a week earlier had triggered confusion for county clerks, and since Saturday 69 of the 75 local officials declined to issue any. Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who favors marriage rights for gay couples but vowed to defend the state’s laws, sought an emergency stay, as did lawyers for four counties.
The one-paragraph order by the justices put on hold Piazza’s decision voiding a 2004 constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, plus a broader ruling he made Thursday after justices noted that a separate law that barred clerks from issuing same-sex marriage licenses remained on the books.
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