(Crittenden County, AR) A controversial ruling by an Arkansas judge created joy for some same-sex couples, but there was continued frustration for others.
Friday, Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Chris Piazza invalidated the Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage.
Since the ruling, same-sex marriage licenses have been issued in five Arkansas counties.
But the rest of the counties are standing by the state’s statute against same-sex marriage and only recognizing marriage between a man and woman.
Leslie Bates and Stephanie Bates, a same-sex couple from Marion., Ark., were disappointed the judge’s ruling didn’t mean they could be married in their hometown.
“We did a commitment ceremony four years ago,” said Leslie.
Leslie and Stephanie want to take their same-sex relationship to the next level and officially get married.
The Marion couple showed up at the Crittenden County Courthouse Monday, encouraged by a Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge’s ruling that struck down the State’s ban on same-sex marriage.
“My daughter lives in Florida and my son lives in Tennessee. As soon as they heard it on the news, called us and said, ‘They’re legalizing it in Arkansas, they’re legalizing it,'” said Leslie.
They soon found the ruling didn’t extend to Crittenden County, and was only being recognized in five counties involved in a 2013 lawsuit against the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
“We found out now that it’s trickling down through the counties. And if we have to go to one of the other counties that’s accepting, then we will. We just wanted it here because our families are here,” said Leslie.
The couple was also upset about their call to the Crittenden County Clerk’s office for information on the cost of a marriage license.
“How much is a marriage license? She didn’t ask how much for me and her. Just how much does it cost to get a marriage license? He would not tell her that. He told her he was not at liberty to discuss how much a marriage license was,” said Leslie.
It wasn’t until the couple went to the clerk’s office in person that their questions were answered.
Their dejection was a stark contrast to the Pulaski County Courthouse, where dozens of same-sex couples lined up Monday morning to get married.
Stephanie said even though Arkansas is their home, they feel like outsiders.
“It’s basically taking our constitutional rights away. We’re taxpayers. How can they tell us that we’re not allowed to get married?” said Stephanie.
The Bates said they had considered going to another state to get married, but were told they had to be residents for at least six months.
Meantime, several Republican lawmakers say they believe Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza should be impeached.