Judge Chris Piazza’s ruling that struck down the same-sex marriage ban is drawing enormous attention worldwide. A reddening Deep South state the first to see a same-sex couple married within its borders? That’s news. Interest is phenomenal and an event Monday morning in Little Rock should get even more attention.
I won’t bother to pick up all the press coverage. The Arkansas Times’ own experience is typical — unprecedented web readership.
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On our Facebook page alone, the original item about Piazza’s ruling has been viewed by almost 200,000 people. It drew 279 comments on Facebook and the link has been “liked” more than 10,000 times. Subsequent Facebook posts on events Saturday, including historic marriages in Eureka Springs, drew similar readership.
The world will continue to watch as most of official Arkansas resists Piazza’s ruling and looks for largely inconsequential excuses — software! — to delay equal rights. A more realistic peril is a court stay.
The news is better in Pulaski County at least in the short run. The clerk’s office, a defendant in the case, is complying with Piazza’s ruling. By Saturday, Clerk Larry Crane had arranged with the county’s software vendor to update the program to allow for issuance of gender neutral marriage licenses. (See, Association of Arkansas Counties, it really ain’t as hard as you foot-draggers want the public to believe.)
Monday morning could be big for marriage equality. How many will marry in Little Rock, and perhaps five other defendant counties, before courts hear Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s effort to stay the ruling? All recognize that a subsequent adverse ruling could void the marriages, but when men and women year to breathe free it’d take a hard heart to discourage them.
A rally by marriage equality advocates is set to begin at 7a.m. at the county courthouse. Some sympathetic elected officials are expected to be on hand Also Arkansas native Chad Griffin, head of the Human Rights Campaign, and Kathy Webb, the state’s first lesbian legislator and a candidate for Little Rock City Board. Clergy will be present to solemnize marriages of those who obtain licenses. It should make good visuals for the evening news around the world. Real people have been the story in the rapidly evolving public opinion on equality. You’ll see more tomorrow.
Take a look at Grav Weldon’s photo stream of his day in Eureka yesterday. The feeling I get calls to mind the Friday Night Light’s football coach motto:
Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose