Gov. Jan Brewer spewed out a lot of hatred toward marriage equality as soon as her toady attorney general, Tom Horne, gave up the fight to ban same-sex weddings. The amusing fact is, after all the frantic legislative efforts to enshrine prejudice into Arizona law this year, Brewer and her fellow Republicans are on the losing end of the issue — especially when it comes to public opinion.
Once Tom Horne conceded that the ban against same-sex marriage is, and will remain, unconstitutional, he issued a most gratifying statement. Although he, too, disagreed with the judicial opinion, he immediately sent a letter to all 15 of Arizona’s county clerks on Friday that was short, sweet, and to the point:
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.
Brewer, on the other hand, went on a full-on rant against the ruling issued by US District Court Judge John Sedwick. She released the following statement:
It is not only disappointing, but also deeply troubling, that unelected federal judges can dictate the laws of individual states, create rights based on their personal policy preferences and supplant the will of the people in an area traditionally left to the states for more than two hundred years.
Simply put, courts should not be in the business of making and changing laws based on their personal agendas. It is not the role of the judiciary to determine that same-sex marriages should be allowed.
Historically and traditionally, that power belongs to the states, and to the people. If society wants to recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions, that decision should be made through our elected representatives or at the ballot – not the courts.
Talk about a personal agenda! Brewer has been on a tear against marriage equality for a long time. But what’s really deeply troubling is that she, the top elected official of the state of Arizona, seems to have no concept of the judicial system’s role in protecting the rights of the minority against the tyranny of the majority. Equally troubling is that the governor is also out of touch with her public. In a poll taken six months ago, 49% of Arizonans approved of marriage equality, compared to 41% who disapproved. The figures have no doubt continued to shift in favor of equality, but Brewer pays scant attention to information that puts her in the wrong.
Fortunately, in other, non-governmental quarters, the response to the change in Arizona’s marriage laws has been overwhelmingly positive. For months, the business community has been enthusiastically preparing for the day gay marriage would become legal. Phoenix’s famed historic venue, the Wrigley Mansion, has long been planning a contest for Oct. 27th, called ‘I Do With A View, Same-sex Wedding Giveaway.’ When the public relations executive in charge, Ty Largo, heard Friday’s news, he said:
It’s a crazy turn of events. The ruling came through my Twitter feed and blew me out of my chair.
Clergy members flocked to marriage license offices around the state on Friday, to be available to couples wanting an immediate ceremony. The Rev. John Dorhauer, leader of the United Church of Christ in Arizona, conducted one of the first weddings. He said:
This was maybe my most important moment in 26 years of ministry. The joy I felt after decades of advocacy was unutterable. I was fighting back tears of pride and joy.
But one of the most satisfying reactions to Friday’s development came from a McCain. Not from Brewer buddy, Sen. John McCain, who has vowed to never accept gay marriages, but from his daughter, Meghan. Although a Republican, Meghan has been a vocal supporter of marriage equality. She’s also described how lonely it is to be a Republican in that position. As the news was released, she didn’t disappoint, immediately tweeting:
Marriage equality is now legal in my home state of Arizona!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! F*** yes, finally!!!!!!!
So take that, Jan Brewer … and John McCain! Arizona is in a celebratory mood, in spite of your hatefulness. The joy will only build as another great day draws near. In January, the woman known as the wicked witch of the west will no longer be governor of Arizona. F*** yes, finally!
Photo by Gage Skidmore