Judge Validates Over 500 Same-Sex Marriages in Arkansas

Judge Validates Over 500 Same-Sex Marriages in Arkansas

Even with a Supreme Court decision on national marriage equality expected in weeks, a judge in Arkansas ordered the state to recognize more than 500 same-sex marriages performed for one week in May last year, the Associated Press reports.

In his ruling, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen affirmed marriage rights for the same-sex couples who wed after another judge tossed out Arkansas's marriage equality ban last year.

After state officials appealed the decision, the state Supreme Court waited a week to stay the ruling. In that week, between May 9 and May 15, more than 500 same-sex couples wed. The legality of these marriages was challenged by state officials including the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration Director Larry Walther.

In his ruling, Judge Griffen made his feelings about Walther clear: "With shameless disrespect for fundamental fairness and equality, [Walther] insists on treating the marriages of same-sex couples who received marriage licenses between May 9 and May 15 as 'void from inception as a matter of law.'"

The ruling means the approximately 500 couples will now be able to take full advantage of benefits only available to married couples, such as filing taxes jointly and enrolling together in insurance plans.

Aside from the state challenge, there is also a federal lawsuit pending against Arkansas's marriage equality ban.

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