(USA Today) An Arkansas clerk has issued the state's first gay marriage license, breaking a barrier that voters put in place with a constitutional amendment 10 years ago.
Carroll County Deputy Clerk Jane Osborn issued a license Saturday morning to Kristin Seaton and Jennifer Rambo of Fort Smith.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza said there is "no rational reason" for preventing gay couples from marrying.
"This is an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality," Piazza wrote. "The exclusion of a minority for no rational reason is a dangerous precedent."
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said he would appeal the ruling and asked that it be suspended during that process. No appeal was filed as of Saturday morning.
"We respect the court's decision, but, in keeping with the Attorney General's obligation to defend the state constitution, we will appeal," Aaron Sadler, spokesman for McDaniel's office, said. "We will request that Judge Piazza issue a stay of his ruling so as not to create confusion or uncertainty about the law while the Supreme Court considers the matter."
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that a law forbidding the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages was unconstitutional. Federal judges have ruled against marriage bans in Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Texas, and ordered Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.
In all, according to gay-rights groups, more than 70 lawsuits seeking marriage equality are pending in about 30 states. Democratic attorneys general in several states — including Virginia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Oregon and Kentucky — have declined to defend same-sex marriage bans.