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December 18, 2014

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Judge strikes all Arkansas bans on gay marriage

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A judge cleared the way on Thursday for gay marriages to resume in Arkansas, striking down all state laws that prevent same-sex couples from wedding.

A day after the state Supreme Court effectively halted gay marriages in the state, Pulaski County Judge Chris Piazza expanded his ruling striking down a constitutional ban to also include the prohibition on clerks issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Justices had ruled Wednesday that Piazza's decision on the gay marriage ban did not change that license law.

Piazza also rejected a request to suspend his ruling, saying there's no evidence the state would be harmed by allowing gay marriages to continue.

"The same cannot be said of the plaintiffs and other 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," Piazza wrote. "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."

Pulaski County, one of two counties that had been issuing licenses before the high court's decision, said it planned to resume marrying gay couples immediately. The other, Washington County, was not issuing licenses Thursday.

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