Arkansas OKs 1st Gay Marriages —But Barely

Clerk in training says she's 'happy to do it'
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2014 1:54 PM CDT
Arkansas OKs 1st Gay Marriage —But Barely
Sheila McFadden, center, and Ken Riley, right, yell words of encouragement at the crowd gathered in front of the Carroll County Courthouse in Eureka Springs, Ark., May 10, 2014.   (AP Photo/Sarah Bentham)

Arkansas today issued its first gay-marriage licenses thanks to a rather bold deputy clerk in training, the Arkansas Times reports. The day after a judge struck down a state ban on gay marriage, about 50 couples arrived at the Eureka Springs courthouse this morning—and were told by the deputy county clerk that she wouldn't give out licenses because the county clerk was away. Apparently, she had called an attorney general for an opinion and, not hearing back, made the decision to shut down the courthouse, adds the Times. Police even asked everyone to leave.

But minutes later, deputy clerk in training Jane Osborne reopened the doors and said she was "happy to do it." The first to marry were Jennifer Rambo, 26, and Kristin Seaton, 27, who'd slept outside the courthouse overnight in their Ford Focus and woke up every half hour so they wouldn't miss the opening. Rambo's reaction when the license was issued, according to the AP: "Thank God." Formidable forces had opposed them, including a state law banning same-sex marriage and a 2004 constitutional amendment that passed with 75% approval, Arkansas News notes. But "the fact that Amendment 83 was popular with voters does not protect it from constitutional scrutiny," wrote county circuit judge Chris Piazza in his ruling. The state plans to appeal his decision. (More Arkansas stories.)

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