UPDATE: Yell County clerk delays on marriage licenses | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

UPDATE: Yell County clerk delays on marriage licenses

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 9:36 AM

click to enlarge OK, BUT: Statement from clerk. - KARK
  • KARK
  • OK, BUT: Statement from clerk.

click to enlarge YELL COUNTY CLERK SHARON BARNETT: Refusing to issue marriage licenses.
  • YELL COUNTY CLERK SHARON BARNETT: Refusing to issue marriage licenses.
Yell County Clerk Sharon Barnett told me in a brief telephone interview this morning that her office was not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples "at this time."

UPDATE: Though she refused to talk to me further, she issued a statement later in the day to others indicating she'd grudgingly go along with the law of the land though she didn't like it.

What follows is how the story developed:

She refused further comment, saying only that she was consulting with the county attorney. When I tried to press her about her statutory duty to issue licenses as a taxpayer-paid public official and the oath she swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution, she hung up on me.

I attempted to ask if she was using the excuse some in other states have offered that the U.S. Supreme Court order doesn't technically take full effect until 25 days after the ruling. She wouldn't comment. Her feeling on same-sex marriage? She wouldn't comment.

She did volunteer that her position now was not necessarily a statement that she would not issue licenses in the future.

The county webpage says Barnett was elected in 2006 after working in the office for 30 years.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge have both criticized the U.S. Supreme Court ruling but advised county clerks that they should issue licenses under a court ruling that effectively struck down bans on same-sex marriage in Arkansas. The Association of Arkansas Counties, which provides legal advice to county officials, has issued similar guidance.

One other clerk, Dana Guffey, in Cleburne County, said she had resigned rather than participate in the licensing procedure because of her moral objections. Under a 2015 law soon to take effect, county clerks no longer must sign marriage licenses. Many have been issued around the state since Friday's Supreme Court ruling.

Tom Tatum, who advises the Yell County Quorum Court on county government affairs as well as serving as prosecutor, said he had not been contacted by Barnett. He responded to my question about his own opinion by saying that the Supreme Court ruling was "pretty clear" that the office would have to comply by issuing licenses.

Might this news release today move Yell County closer to justice?

(MOBILE, Ala., July 1, 2015)–U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade today issued an order confirming that her injunction directing all Alabama probate judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples is now in effect and requires immediate compliance. A violation of Judge Granade’s order could result in a county probate judge being held liable for contempt of court, attorneys’ fees, financial penalties, and any other remedies the court deems proper.

Also there's this from the lawyer in the successful federal lawsuit over the state ban:

click to enlarge jack.jpg
He comments further relative to the injunction issued by the Arkansas Supreme Court 13 months ago after Judge Chris Piazza's equality ruling:

And the injunction dies with appeal being dismissed I believe. And it only technically applies to parties in the case before Piazza. But it is very clear what the law of the land is now. So there is no excuse for clerks to not issue the licenses.

UPDATE: At 2 p.m. today, I was informed by employees in the clerk's office that the clerk had given a statement to Associated Press on the matter, but they wouldn't share the statement with me. Finally, though, after several calls, an employee in the office said the issue had been resolved and that licenses were being issued to all comers, including same-sex couples should one materialize.

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