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Beth Moore, left, and her partner Abby Hill, center, exchange vows in a marriage ceremony performed by Jeremy Hernandez, right, at the Washington County Courthouse in Fayetteville, Ark., on May 16, 2014. / Sarah Bentham, AP

For the second time this week, the Arkansas Supreme Court has overruled a county judge who struck down as unconstitutional all state laws that banned same-sex marriage.

The high court's action Friday halted the issuance of licences to same-sex couples pending all appeals. Before the emergency order, more than 450 couples had received licenses in three counties.

In a duel with Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza, the supreme court initially suspended his May 9 decision nullifying a 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman only. The court said Wednesday that his opinion had omitted a statute that prohibits clerks from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

Thursday, Piazza expanded his earlier ruling, striking down the license ban and all other state laws barring same-sex marriage. That prompted the top court Friday to grant a request by Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and four counties to temporarily halt Piazza's ruling while it's being challenged in the courts.

Of the state's 75 counties, only Conway, Pulaski and Washington issued licenses to same-sex couples Friday.

Nationwide, same-sex marriage is now legal in 17 other states and the District of Columbia. Bans have been struck down in Idaho, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

Same-sex marriages were to have begun Friday in Idaho, but they were temporarily halted Thursday by a federal appeals court to give the state more time to appeal.

Contributing: Associated Press



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Ark. high court again suspends gay marriage

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