Same sex couples across several states this month have received the sudden okay to marry after the Supreme Court made the decision to stop hearing cases against gay marriage. This decision led Alaska, Nevada, North Carolina and Idaho to strike their bans and allow couples to marry. Several other states are predicted to follow suit in the coming months.
Now, Arizona will be joining their ranks. Attorney General Tom Horne announced his decision at 10:30 this morning. Horne said in a press conference:
I have decided not to appeal today’s decision, it would be an exercise in futility, which would only serve to waste tax-payers money. I am issuing a letter to the 15 counties clerks of court with the directive they can issue licenses for same-sex marriage immediately.
I disagree with this decision, I think this is a decision that should be decided on by the voters rather than by the judges. It would be unethical to appeal because there is no chance of winning of that appeal. There is no chance of reversal. As soon as this press conference is over, I will send my email to the county clerks and [same-sex couples] can marry immediately.
Horne also said that other issues surrounding gay couples, like adoption, would have to be looked at individually, but as for marriage — it’s a go. Under Rule 11, Horne explained, he cannot ethically appeal the decision in an effort to delay the ruling. It has no chance of being reversed. The decision stands!
Arizona’s ban on marriage equality started with a state law passed in 1996. Then, the voter-approved Prop. 102, which had the law worded into the state constitution, was passed in 2008. It was virtually identical to California’s Prop. 8 state constitution marriage ban. The SCOTUS decision sped that legal process up, but the decision in the 9th Circuit Court to grant equal protection to gay couples under the 14th Amendment in states like Nevada, Idaho and Arizona was made last week. AG Horne was the last position standing in the way of making the 9th Circuit Court’s ruling a reality for Arizonans.
President Cathi Herrod, a spokesperson for Center for Arizona Policy, a vocal defender of Prop. 102, said in a statement:
I am heartbroken for a country and a state that has had the redefinition of marriage forced upon them by an out-of-control federal judiciary. Today, we grieve. We grieve for the children who now have no chance of growing up with a mom and a dad. We mourn the loss of a culture and its ethical foundation. We mourn a culture that continues to turn its back on timeless principles.
Herrod also stated that she would not give up and would fight to encourage the culture in AZ to remain one man, one woman.
Gay couples are already lining up at court houses all over Arizona to marry each other. AG Horne issued a letter to the county court, stating:
Effective immediately, the clerks of Arizona county superior courts cannot deny a marriage license to any otherwise eligible licensees on the grounds that the license permits a marriage between persons of the same sex.
Governor Jan Brewer was also against the same-sex marriage ruling, but agreed with the decision not to appeal.
There are over roughly 21,000 same-sex couple individuals living in Arizona.
Arizona is the 31st state to allow same-sex marriage. Montana looks like it will be the next to rule on the issue.