State Capitol News
3:00 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Arizona Same-Sex Marriage Advocates Push Ruling

Unwilling to wait for a 2016 vote, advocates for same-sex marriage asked a federal judge today to rule the state's ban is illegal. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.

Karen Bailey and Nelda Majors, a couple since college, explain Thursday why they are part of a newly filed effort to get a federal judge to rule that they have a legal right to wed despite a voter-approved state constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman.
Karen Bailey and Nelda Majors, a couple since college, explain Thursday why they are part of a newly filed effort to get a federal judge to rule that they have a legal right to wed despite a voter-approved state constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman.
Credit Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer

State law has long said a marriage is solely between one man and one woman. And, voters put it in the state constitution in 2008. Attorney Jennifer Pizer of Lambda Legal, representing seven Arizona couples and two survivors of same-sex relationships, contends that ban violates federal constitutional provisions.

“Because our clients are not able to marry, they’re being denied equal protection under the laws, which should be a birthright of all Americans. And, they’re being denied the fundamental freedom to marry the one they love. That's a denial of due process that’s guaranteed to all of us by the U.S. Constitution,” Pizer said.

State Attorney General Tom Horne said he intends to defend the Arizona law, saying the issue is not whether it amounts to unequal treatment.

“The question really is what is the definition of marriage. I would say that the Legislature, and the people acting through the Legislature, have a right to define what is marriage. And that should be a decision made by the people governing themselves rather than the judiciary imposing it on them,” Horne said.

But, Horne said it may not matter what he thinks. He said the U.S. Supreme likely Court will rule before this case goes to trial on one of the lawsuits from another state challenging a ban on same-sex weddings.