County clerk office not equipped to handle same-sex marriage filings
After a Pulaski County circuit judge's ruling last Friday declared the state's ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional, many county clerk offices have indicated they are not able to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
Poinsett County Clerk Fonda Condra said Tuesday her office is not equipped at this time to issue same-sex marriage licenses because of the computer software. Condra said her office had only received a few phone calls on the issue, though those were mostly media inquiries.
Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled Friday, May 9, in the case of Wright v. Arkansas that Act 144 of 1997 and Amendment 83, which was approved by voters in 2004, were unconstitutional. Act 144 and Amendement 83 ban same-sex marriage in Arkansas and the recognition of same-sex marriage licenses from other states.
Wright v. Arkansas involved 12 same-sex couples seeking the right to marry in the state of Arkansas and 8 same sex-couples who were married in other states seeking to have their marriages recognized in Arkansas.
In his 13 page ruling, Judge Piazza said, "A marriage license is a civil document and is not, nor can it be, based upon any particular faith. Same-sex couples are a morally disliked minority and the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages is driven by animus rather than a rational basis. This violates the United States Constitution."
Piazza goes on to state, "Tradition alone cannot form a rational basis for a law...The fact that a particular discrimination has been 'traditional' is even more of a reason to be skeptical of its rationality."
Piazza frequently references the case of Loving v. Virginia from 1967, a Supreme Court Case declaring Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute and Racial Integrity Act of 1924 unconstitutional as violations of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, and the case of United States v. Windsor from 2013, in which the Supreme Court declared Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional in violation of the 5th Amendment. Section 3 of DOMA defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
"The exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage for no rational basis violates the fundamental right to privacy and equal protection," Piazza said. "The difference between opposite-sex and same-sex families is within the privacy of their homes."
On Monday, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel formally asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to stay Piazza's ruling. McDaniel has also said he is appealing Piazza's decision to the Arkansas Supreme Court.