Same-Sex Marriage on Again in Arkansas, Off in Idaho

Court rulings Thursday re-started marriage for same-sex couples in Arkansas, but put off a plan to begin permitting them in Idaho after 24 hours of rapidly moving legal developments.

In Little Rock, Arkansas judge Charles Piazza corrected what he described as "a clerical error" that created confusion over the meaning of his order last Friday, when he declared the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

Lawyers for the state contended that because Friday's ruling did not specifically refer to a provision of Arkansas law that prevented county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, such unions remained illegal. The state Supreme Court seemed to agree with that analysis late Wednesday, without explicitly ruling on the matter, when it rejected an appeal from the state's attorney general.

Kristin Seaton, center, of Jacksonville, Ark., holds up her marriage license as she leaves the Carroll County Courthouse in Eureka Springs, Ark., with her partner, Jennifer Rambo, left, of Fort Smith, Ark. Saturday, May 10, 2014, in Eureka Springs, Ark. Rambo and Seaton were the first same-sex couple to be granted a marriage license in Eureka Springs after a judge overturned Ammendment 83, which banned same-sex marriage in the state of Arkansas. Sarah Bentham / AP file

Some 400 same-sex couples had received marriage licenses in the period between Friday's order and Wednesday night's state Supreme Court action.

On Thursday, Judge Piazza said language pertaining to the county clerks was inadvertently omitted from his May 9th order. He also refused again to issue a stay that would block the effect of his ruling while the state files another appeal.

The judge said he "cannot in good conscience grant such request. Constitutional violations are routinely recognized as triggering irreparable harm unless they are promptly remedied."

Judge Piazza said last Friday's order allowing same-sex couples to begin getting married did not harm the state or its citizens. But, he added, that can't be said of "same-sex couples who have not been afforded the same measure of human dignity, respect and recognition by this state as their similarly situated, opposite-sex counterparts. A stay would operate to further damage Arkansas families and deprive them of equal access to the rights associated with marriage status in this state."

In Idaho, plans to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses Friday morning were put on hold by a federal appeals court in California.

On Tuesday, a federal judge in Idaho declared Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional and said her order would go into effect on Friday. But on Thursday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco put a temporary hold on the ruling while the state pursues a formal appeal.

The state had argued that it would be "required to permit same-sex couples to marry, contrary to Idaho law, and before any appellate review of the district court's decision. Such a result would be contrary to the way in which the Supreme Court, this Court, and numerous other courts have handled appeals of similar decisions."

"This case should be treated precisely the same to avoid unnecessary uncertainty and potential harm for all parties," the state said, and the appeals court apparently agreed.