A judge ordered Arkansas on Tuesday to recognize hundreds of same-sex marriages that were performed during a six-day window in the state in May 2014 and have since been in legal limbo.
The ruling from Pulaski County Judge Wendell Griffen applies to about 500 couples who received marriage licenses during the time when clerks issued them to same-sex couples in places such as Pulaski County, the state’s most populous area and home to the capital, Little Rock.
“With shameless disrespect for fundamental fairness and equality, (the state) insists on treating the marriages of same-sex couples who received marriage licenses between May 9 and May 15 as ‘void as a matter of law,'” he wrote in his decision.
Griffen was one of the judges who performed same-sex marriages during that period, when Arkansas became the first Southern state to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
His order also allows the couples to enroll as spouses in the state’s health insurance plan and prevents the state from infringing on their spousal rights.
State officials were not immediately available for comment but have typically appealed any decision that went against a state constitutional amendment barring gay marriage.
Shortly after a different state judge allowed same-sex marriage in May 2014, the attorney general petitioned to halt the issuance of the licenses. The state Supreme Court agreed, issuing a brief, unsigned order, without elaborating on its reasoning.
In November, a U.S. district judge struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage but put the decision on holding pending appeals that have taken the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to rule this month on the matter.
Gay marriage is legal in 37 states and the District of Columbia.
SOURCE: Reuters, Steve Barnes