Judge strikes all Arkansas bans on gay marriage

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Judge strikes all Arkansas bans on gay marriage
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JUNE 25: Stormy Simon, (L), president of OverStock.com, Chris Wharton, (C) Member of Utah Pride Board, and Matthew Spencer (R) Communication Director of Restore Humanity, talk at a press conference at the Utah Pride Center after the 10th Circuit Court in Denver ruled and upheld same sex marriage in Utah on June 25, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah.The ruling overturns the voter-approved ban on same sex marriges in Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JUNE 25: Kody Partridge (R) one of three same sex couples suing Utah, hugs an unidentified women in celebration after the 10th Circuit Court in Denver ruled and upheld same sex marriage in Utah on June 25, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The ruling overturns the voter-approved ban on same sex marriges in Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - FEBRUARY 10: A gay activist is arrested by Utah Highway Patrol Officers after refusing to stop blocking the entrance of one of three hearing rooms at the Senate office building in protest of a delay in the hearing of Senate Bill 100 on February 10, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. SB100 is an anti discrimination bill that has broad support but last week it was announced by the Utah State Senate that the bill would be put on hold after a federal judge ruled Utah's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SLAT LAKE CITY, UT - JANUARY 28: LaRenta Brinkerhoff and other demonstrators hold an anti-gay marriage rally inside the Utah State Capitol on January 28, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Several weeks ago a federal judge ruled unconstitutional a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in the state of Utah. The ruling has since been stayed and is working it's way through the legal system. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SLAT LAKE CITY, UT - JANUARY 28: Supporters hold a pro-gay marriage rally outside the Utah State Capitol on January 28, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Several weeks ago a federal judge ruled unconstitutional a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in the state of Utah. The ruling has since been stayed and is working it's way through the legal system. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SLAT LAKE CITY, UT - JANUARY 28: Demonstrators hold an anti-gay marriage rally inside the Utah State Capitol on January 28, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Several weeks ago a federal judge ruled unconstitutional a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in the state of Utah. The ruling has since been stayed and is working it's way through the legal system. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SLAT LAKE CITY, UT - JANUARY 28: Charles Frost speaks to several hundred people holding a pro-gay marriage rally outside the Utah State Capitol on January 28, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Several weeks ago a federal judge ruled unconstitutional a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in the state of Utah. The ruling has since been stayed and is working it's way through the legal system. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SLAT LAKE CITY, UT - JANUARY 28: Demonstrators hold an anti-gay marriage rally inside the Utah State Capitol on January 28, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Several weeks ago a federal judge ruled unconstitutional a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in the state of Utah. The ruling has since been stayed and is working it's way through the legal system. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SLAT LAKE CITY, UT - JANUARY 28: Utah's Attorney General, Sean Reyes speaks to demonstrators holding a anti-gay marriage rally inside the Utah State Capitol on January 28, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Several weeks ago a federal judge ruled unconstitutional a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in the state of Utah. The ruling has since been stayed and is working it's way through the legal system. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - FEBRUARY 10: A gay activist is arrested by Utah Highway Patrol Officers after refusing to stop blocking the entrance of one of three hearing rooms at the Senate office building in protest of a delay in the hearing of Senate Bill 100 on February 10, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. SB100 is an anti discrimination bill that has broad support but last week it was announced by the Utah State Senate that the bill would be put on hold after a federal judge ruled Utah's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - FEBRUARY 10: John Fellows, (2ndL), general council for the Utah legislature, warns gay activists that they will be arrested and charged with a felony as they block the entrance of one of three hearing rooms at the Senate office building in protest of a delay in the hearing of Senate Bill 100 as Utah State Senator Stuart Reid, (L) and Utah Highway patrol officer watch on February 10, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. SB100 is an anti discrimination bill that has broad support but last week it was announced by the Utah State Senate that the bill would be put on hold after a federal judge ruled Utah's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- 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 Circuit 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."

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's office said he would appeal and was asking the high court to suspend Piazza's latest order. McDaniel, a Democrat, recently said he supports gay marriage but would continue defending the state's ban in court.

"This order clarifies what we understood Judge Piazza had attempted to do last week, and it does not change our posture of seeking a stay from the Arkansas Supreme Court and pursuing an appeal," McDaniel spokesman Aaron Sadler said.

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

An attorney for the couples who had sued over the ban said he wasn't surprised by the ruling.

"I think his intent all along was to strike down any of these statutes that interfered with a same-sex couple obtaining a marriage license in the state," attorney Jack Wagoner said. "The fact he didn't call out the statute number of one of those statutes was an oversight."

Last Friday, Piazza threw out a 10-year-old ban that voters placed in the state constitution, as well as a separate state law barring same-sex marriages.

After Piazza's decision last Friday, clerks in five counties responded by issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Through Wednesday evening, 456 gay couples in Arkansas had since received permission to marry, according to an Associated Press canvass of county clerks. By Wednesday, only Pulaski and Washington counties were issuing licenses.

Arkansas voters approved a gay marriage ban by a 3-to-1 margin in 2004.

Seventeen other states allow gay marriage. Judges have struck down bans in Idaho, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Virginia.
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