Same-Sex Couples Marry In Little Rock

Jim Burroway

May 12th, 2014

Last Saturday, the court house in Eureka Springs was the only place in Arkansas where same-sex couples could marry following Friday’s decision by an Arkansas judge declaring the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. This morning, marriages are taking place at the Pulaski County Court House in Little Rock:

The first Little Rock license went to Shelly Butler, 51, and Susan Barr, 48, of Dallas, who have been together since they met at Southern Arkansas University in 1985.

“When we heard the news in Arkansas, we had to jump in the car to get here,” Butler said shortly before receiving the license. “I’m just excited to marry my best friend of almost 30 years, finally.”

The second couple to receive a license was Thomas Baldwin, 37, and Devin Rudeseal, 24. The Bryant couple quickly married in the courthouse, and Rudeseal planned to take a final at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock later Monday morning.

The Arkansas Times adds:

Most counties in Arkansas will not be issuing licenses, relying on legal guidance that — if the counties were not defendants in the case (only six were) — and absent a direct order to cease discriminatory practices, the state ban remains in place in those counties. At least one county that IS a defendant — Lonoke — apparently has announced it will not issue licenses.

Washington County, one of the defendants, also began issuing licenses to same-sex couples. Justice of the Peace Eva Madison posted a Facebook photo after she signed the first such license in Washington County.

Washington County’s seat is in Fayetteville, in the northwest corner of the state and not far from Eureka Springs. It’s the state’s third largest city and home to the University of Arkansas. Conversely, Benton County (Bentonville), which is immediately to the north of Washington County and is home to Wal-Mart’s headquarters, has announced that it would not be issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The same goes for Faulkner County (Conway), just north of Little Rock.

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